Throughout life, neural systems adapt in response to change. In fact, this neural flexibility is essential for maintaining
behavioral stability. For instance, motor systems adapt when feedback from an animal's actions fails to produce the expected
outcome. Neural signals reporting the disagreement between actual and expected feedback promote such adaptive behavioral
change by prompting a functional re-mapping that can range from simple modifications in the gain of synaptic connections, to
wholesale rewiring of well-mapped connections.
Our lab studies how adaptive plasticity occurs within a vocal motor
system when feedback from an animal's vocalizations
fails to match learned sensory-motor representations. In songbirds, as
in humans, the stable production of learned vocalizations
depends on normal auditory feedback. Altering or eliminating such
feedback in adults produces gradual and long lasting changes
in vocal performance. We study the neural processes that drive these
feedback-based changes in vocal behavior, focusing on
striatal-thalamic-cortical circuits that have been implicated in
evaluating and adjusting learned motor behavior. The studies
combine behavioral, neuroanatomical, and cellular analyses to identify
brain regions and synaptic processes that promote adaptive
changes in vocal motor behavior.
- Singh, T.D., E.J. Nordeen, & K.W. Nordeen (2005). Song tutoring triggers
CaMKII phosphorylation within a specialized portion of the avian basal ganglia. J Neurobiol, 65(2):
- Heinrich, J.E., K.W. Nordeen, & E.J. Nordeen (2005). Dissociation
between extension of the sensitive period for avian vocal learning and the timing of dendritic spine loss in the
lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium. Neurobiol. Learning and Memory, 83:
- Scott, L., T.D. Singh, E.J. Nordeen, & K.W. Nordeen (2004). Developmental
patterns of NMDAR expression within the song system do not recur during adult vocal plasticity in zebra
finches. J. Neurobiol, 58, 442-54.
- Nordeen, K.W. & E.J. Nordeen (2004). Synaptic and molecular mechanisms
regulating plasticity during early learning. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1016, 416-437.
- Heinrich, J.E., Singh, T.D., Nordeen, K.W., & Nordeen, E.J. (2003). NR2B
downregulation in a forebrain region required for avian vocal learning is not sufficient to close the sensitive
period for song learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 79, 99-108.
- Singh, T.D., Heinrich, J.E., Wissman, A. Brenowitz, E.A., Nordeen, E.J. & K.W Nordeen (2003).
Seasonal regulation of NMDA receptor NR2B mRNA in the adult canary song
system. J. Neurobiol., 54, 593-603.
- Heinrich, J.E., Singh, T.D., Sohrabji, F., Nordeen, K.W., & Nordeen, E.J. (2002).
Developmental and hormonal regulation of NR2A mRNA in forebrain regions controlling
avian vocal learning. Journal of Neurobiology, 51, 149-159.
- Scott, L., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (2000). The relationship between rates
of HVc neuron addition and vocal plasticity in adult songbirds. Journal of Neurobiology, 43,
- Singh, T.D., Basham, M.E., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (2000). Early sensory
and hormonal experience modulate age-related changes in NR2B mRNA within a forebrain region controlling avian
vocal learning. Journal of Neurobiology, 44, 82-94.
- Basham, M.E., Sohrabji, F., Singh, T.D., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (1999).
Developmental regulation of NMDA receptor 2b subunit mRNA and ifenprodil binding in
the zebra finch anterior forebrain. Journal of Neurobiology, 39, 155-167.
- Ward, B., Nordeen, K.W., & Nordeen, E.J. (1998). Individual variation in neuron
number predicts differences in the propensity for avian vocal imitation. Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, 95, 1277-1282.
- Nordeen, K.W., & Nordeen, E.J. (1997). Anatomical and synaptic substrates for
avian song learning. Journal of Neurobiology, 33, 532-548.
- Aamodt, S.M., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (1996). Blockade of NMDA receptors during song model
exposure impairs song development in juvenile Zebra finches. Learning and Memory, 65, 91-98.
- Basham, M.E., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (1996). Blockade of NMDA receptors
in the anterior forebrain impairs sensory acquisition in the Zebra finch. Neurobiology of Learning
and Memory, 66, 295-304.
- Aamodt, S.M., Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (1995). Early isolation from conspecific song does not
affect the normal developmental decline of NMDA receptor binding in an avian song nucleus. Journal of
Neurobiology, 27, 76-84.
- Nordeen, K.W., & Nordeen, E.J. (1992). Auditory feedback is necessary for the maintenance of stereotyped
song in adult Zebra finches. Behavioral and Neural Biology, 57, 58-66.
- Nordeen, E.J., & Nordeen, K.W. (1990). Neurogenesis and sensitive periods in avian vocal learning.
Trends in Neurosciences, 13, 31-36.
Eliot A. Brenowitz, Professor, Depts Psychology and Biology, U. Washington
Steven A. Goldman, Professor, Dept Neurosurgery, U. Rochester
Kathy Nordeen, Professor, Dept Brain & Cognitive Sciences, U. Rochester
My research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and the Schmitt Program for Integrative Neuroscience.
BCS 240: Basic Neurobiology
BCS/NSC 249: Developmental Neurobiology
Current Students & Research Associates
Dr. David Holtzman
Former Graduate Students and Postdocs
Dr. Farida Sohrabji, Assoc. Professor, Texas A&M
Dr. Sandra Aamodt, Senior Editor, Nature Neuroscience
Dr. Michael Burek, Merck Pharmeceuticals
Dr. Mark Basham, Asst Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Dr. Bonnie Ward, Post-doc, Wellesley College
Dr. Luisa Scott, Post-doc, U. of Texas, Austin
Dr. Julie Heinrich, Post-doc, U. Notre Dame
Marla Bruns (Master's student), MD/PhD program, Syracuse U.
Dr. Tryambak Singh (Postdoc), Assoc. Professor, Baranas Hindu U.