Identification of the origin of catecholaminergic inputs to HVc in canaries by retrograde tract tracing combined with tyrosine hydroxylase immunocytochemistry

Didier Appeltants, Philippe Absil, Jacques Balthazart, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The telencephalic nucleus HVc (sometimes referred to as the high vocal center) plays a key role in the production and perception of birdsong. Although many afferent and efferent connections to this nucleus have been described, it has been clear for many years, based on chemical neuroanatomical criteria, that there are projections to this nucleus that remain undescribed. A variety of methods including high performance liquid chromatography, immunohistochemistry and receptor autoradiography have identified high levels of catecholamine transmitters, the presence of enzymes involved in the synthesis of catecholamines such as tyrosine hydroxylase and a variety of catecholamine receptor sub-types in the HVc of several songbird species. However, no definitive projections to HVc have been described from cells groups known to synthesize catecholamines. These projections were analyzed in the present study by retrograde tract tracing combined with immunocytochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase. The origin of the catecholaminergic inputs to HVc were determined based exclusively on birds in which injections of the retrograde tracer (latex fluospheres) were confined within the cytoarchitectonic boundaries of the nucleus. Retrogradely transported latex fluospheres were found mainly in cells of two dopaminergic nuclei, the mesencephalic central gray (A11) and, to a lesser extend, the area ventralis of Tsai (A10; homologous to the ventral tegmental area of mammals). A few retrogradely-labelled cells were also found in the noradrenergic nucleus subceruleus (A6). Most of these retrogradely-labelled cells were also tyrosine hydroxylase-positive. Other catecholaminergic nuclei were devoid of retrograde label. These data converge with others studies to indicate that HVc receives discrete dopaminergic and noradrenergic inputs. These inputs may influence the steroid regulation of HVc, attentional processes related to song and modulate sensory inputs to the song system. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine
  • High vocal center
  • Hyperstriatum ventrale pars caudale
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serinus canaria
  • Song system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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