Motor origin of precise synaptic inputs onto forebrain neurons driving a skilled behavior.
Vallentin D, Long MA – 2015
Sensory feedback is crucial for learning and performing many behaviors, but its role in the execution of complex motor sequences is poorly understood. To address this, we consider the forebrain nucleus HVC in the songbird, which contains the premotor circuitry for song production and receives multiple convergent sensory inputs. During singing, projection neurons within HVC exhibit precisely timed synaptic events that may represent the ongoing motor program or song-related sensory feedback. To distinguish between these possibilities, we recorded the membrane potential from identified HVC projection neurons in singing zebra finches. External auditory perturbations during song production did not affect synaptic inputs in these neurons. Furthermore, the systematic removal of three sensory feedback streams (auditory, proprioceptive, and vagal) did not alter the frequency or temporal precision of synaptic activity observed. These findings support a motor origin for song-related synaptic events and suggest an updated circuit model for generating behavioral sequences.