A role for nonapeptides in zebra finch nesting behaviour.

Simone Meddle, Zach Hall, Susan D. Healy

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

During nest building by male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) several regions in the social behaviour network and mesolimbic reward circuit in both the male and his female mate express the immediate early gene c-fos (Hall et al., 2014). As the nonapeptides oxytocin and vasopressin play an important role in mammalian social behaviour including bonding and parental behaviour, we tested the hypothesis that mesotocin-vasotocin neuronal populations in the social behaviour network and the dopaminergic system are active during nest construction. We performed free-floating double immunohistochemistry on 4% paraformaldehyde fixed brain tissue from nest-building and non-nest-building male and female zebra finches (n=8/group) for Fos (as a marker of neuronal activity) combined with arginine vasotocin or oxytocin or tyrosine hydroxylase respectively. We then quantified the number of double-labelled cells in specific neuronal populations and correlated this with the variation in nest building. Fos activation in the vasotocin neuronal populations, such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BnST) increased the more material a nest-building male finch picked up (p=0.02) and the more time a finch pair spent together in the nest (p=0.01). Fos activation in the BnST mesotocin neuronal populations was higher in nest-building males and females compared to controls (p=0.05). In the dopaminergic neuronal population in the midbrain central gray, Fos increased the longer the finch pair spent together in the nest (p=0.001). These findings provide evidence for a role of the mesotocin-vasotocin and dopaminergic systems in nest building, which in turn suggests an evolutionary conserved parental behavioural function for the nonapeptide social behaviour network. These data also generate the interesting question of whether nest building with a partner is a rewarding behaviour. Hall ZJ, Bertin M, Bailey IE, Meddle SL, Healy SD (2014) Neural correlates of nesting behavior in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Behav. Brain Res. 264:26-33.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventSociety for Neuroscience - Washington DC, United States
Duration: 15 Nov 2014 → …


ConferenceSociety for Neuroscience
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington DC
Period15/11/14 → …


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