Projects per year
We used a battery of genes encoding transcription factors (Pax6, Islet1, Nkx2.1, Lhx6, Lhx5, Lhx9, FoxP2) and neuropeptides to study the extended amygdala in developing zebra finches. We identified different components of the central extended amygdala comparable to those found in mice and chickens, including the intercalated amygdalar cells, the central amygdala, and the lateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Many cells likely originate in the dorsal striatal domain, ventral striatal domain, or the pallidal domain, as is the case in mice and chickens. Moreover, a cell subpopulation of the central extended amygdala appears to originate in the prethalamic eminence. As a general principle, these different cells with specific genetic profiles and embryonic origin form separate or partially intermingled cell corridors along the extended amygdala, which may be involved in different functional pathways. In addition, we identified the medial amygdala of the zebra finch. Like in the chickens and mice, it is located in the subpallium and is rich in cells of pallido-preoptic origin, containing minor subpopulations of immigrant cells from the ventral pallium, alar hypothalamus and prethalamic eminence. We also proposed that the medial bed nucleus of the stria terminalis is composed of several parallel cell corridors with different genetic profile and embryonic origin: preoptic, pallidal, hypothalamic, and prethalamic. Several of these cell corridors with distinct origin express FoxP2, a transcription factor implicated in synaptic plasticity. Our results pave the way for studies using zebra finches to understand the neural basis of social behavior, in which the extended amygdala is involved.