Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 64–80 | Cite as

Neural substrates of vocalizations in gulls and pigeons

  • Juan D. Delius


Vocalizations were obtained by electrically stimulating the inferior colliculus, the auditory thalamic nucleus and a medial hypothalamic nucleus of awake, unrestrained herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and pigeons. The significance of the involvement of auditory centres in the motor control of avian calling is discussed. The wide gammut of calls and accompanying behaviour that was elicited is described and related to the normal behaviour, typical of the species concerned. A difference between immature gulls and adult pigeons regarding this relationship is attributed to their differing hormonal states. Attention is drawn to the heterogeneity of temporal characteristics associated with the stimulus induced responses even when elicited from virtually the same site. Incorporating earlier work on the central mechanism of avian vocalizations and based on anatomical, physiological and behavioural considerations it is tentatively concluded that the neural structures involved are linearly organized into a telencephalofugal, efferent system. It is suggested that the inferior colliculus incorporates the origin of a final common pathway to medular motor centres for all vocalization generating structures.

Key Words

Electrical brain stimulation Evoked vocalization Birds 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akerman, B.: Behavioural effects of electrical stimulation in the forebrain of the pigeon. Behaviour 26, 323–350 (1966).Google Scholar
  2. Allan, N.B.: Central mechanisms of chick vocalizations. Ph. D. thesis. Brighton: University of Sussex 1970.Google Scholar
  3. Andrew, R.J.: Intracranial self-stimulation in the chick and the causation of emotional behaviour. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 159, 625–639 (1969).Google Scholar
  4. Barfleld, R.J.: Induction of aggressive behaviour and courtship behaviour by intracerebral implants of androgen in capons. Amer. Zool. 5, 203 (1965).Google Scholar
  5. Biederman Thorson, M.: Auditory responses of neurons in the lateral mesencephalic nucleus (inferior colliculus) of the barbary dove. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 193, 695–705 (1967).Google Scholar
  6. Boord, R.L.: Ascending projections of the primary cochlear nuclei and nucleus laminaris in the pigeon. J. comp. Neurol. 133, 523–542 (1968).Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J.L.: Vocalization evoked from the optic lobe of a songbird. Science 149, 1002–1003 (1965a).Google Scholar
  8. —: Loss of vocalization caused by lesions in the nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis of the redwinged blackbird. Amer. Zool. 5, 693 (1965b).Google Scholar
  9. —: The control of avian vocalization by the central nervous system. In: Hinde, R.A. (ed), Bird Vocalization. Cambridge: University Press 1969.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, R. G. B.: Species isolation between the herring gull and lesser black-backed gull. Ibis Amer. Zool. 109, 310–318 (1967).Google Scholar
  11. Delius, J.D.: Pentobarbital anaesthesia in the herring and lesser black-backed gull. J. small Anim. Pract. 7, 605–609 (1966a).Google Scholar
  12. —: Some techniques for the electrical brain stimulation of small unrestrained animals. Med. biol. Enging. 4, 393–397 (1966b).Google Scholar
  13. —: Displacement activities and arousal. Nature (Lond.) 214, 1259–1260 (1967).Google Scholar
  14. Delius, J. D.: The effect of daytime, tides and other factors on some activities of lesser black-backed gulls, Larus fuscus. Rev. comp. Anim. (1970) [in press].Google Scholar
  15. Fabricius, E., Jansson, A.:. Laboratory observations on the reproductive behaviour of the pigeon (Columba livia) during the preincubation phase of the breeding cycle. Anim. Behav. 11, 334–347 (1963).Google Scholar
  16. Goethe, F.: Vergleichende Beobachtungen zum Verhalten der Silbermöwe (Larus argentatus) und der Heringsmöwe (Larus fuscus). Acta XI Congr. Int. Orn. 1954, 577–582 (1955a).Google Scholar
  17. —: Beobachtungen bei der Aufzucht junger Silbermöwen. Z. Tierpsychol. 12, 402–433 (1955b).Google Scholar
  18. —: Die Silbermöwe, Wittenberg: Ziemsen 1956.Google Scholar
  19. —: Verhaltensunterschiede zwischen europäischen Formen der Silbermöwengruppe. J. Ornith. 104, 129–141 (1963).Google Scholar
  20. Greenwalt, C.H.: How birds sing. Scient. Amer. 221, 126–139 (1969).Google Scholar
  21. Haarwood, D., Vowles, D.M.: Defensive behaviour and the after effects of brain stimulation in the ring dove. Neuropsychologia 5, 345–366 (1967).Google Scholar
  22. Hinde, R.A.: (ed). Bird Vocalization. Cambridge: University Press 1969.Google Scholar
  23. Holst, E. von, St. Paul, U. von: Vom Wirkungsgefüge der Triebe. Naturwissenschaften 47, 409–422 (1960).Google Scholar
  24. Hunsperger, R.W.: Neurophysiologische Grundlagen des affektiven Verhaltens. Bull. Schweiz. Akad. med. Wiss. 21, 8–22 (1965).Google Scholar
  25. Hutchison, J.B.: Initiation of courtship by hypothalamic implants of testosterone propionate in castrated doves. Nature (Lond.) 216, 591–592 (1967).Google Scholar
  26. John Smith, W.: Messages of vertebrate communication. Science 165, 145–150 (1969).Google Scholar
  27. Jürgens, U., Ploog, D.: Cerebral representation of vocalization in the squirrel monkey. Exp. Brain Res. 10, 532–554 (1970).Google Scholar
  28. Kappers, C.U.A., Huber, G.C., Crosby, E.C.: The comparative anatomy of the nervous system of vertebrates including man. New York: Hafner 1965.Google Scholar
  29. Karten, H.J.: The ascending auditory pathways in the pigeon. I. Diencephalic projections of the inferior colliculus (nucleus mesencephalicus lateralis, pars dorsalis). Brain Res. 6, 409–427 (1967).Google Scholar
  30. —: The ascending auditory pathways in the pigeon. II. Telencephalic projections of the nucleus ovoidalis thalami. Brain Res. 11, 134–153 (1968).Google Scholar
  31. —, Hodos, W.: A stereotaxic atlas of the brain of the pigeon (Columba livia). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press 1967.Google Scholar
  32. Kanai, T., Wang, S.C.: Localization of the central vocalization mechanism in the brain stem of the cat. Exp. Neurol. 6, 426–434 (1962).Google Scholar
  33. Konishi, M., Nottebohm, F.: Experimental studies in the ontogeny of avian vocalizations. In: Hinde, R.A. (ed), Bird Vocalization. Cambridge: University Press 1969.Google Scholar
  34. Maley, M.J.: Electrical stimulation of agonistic behaviour in the mallard. Behaviour 34, 138–160 (1969).Google Scholar
  35. Murphey, R.K., Phillips, R.E..: Central patterning of a vocalization in fowl. Nature (Lond.) 216, 1125–1126 (1967).Google Scholar
  36. Nottebohm, F.: Ontogeny of bird song. Science 167, 950–956 (1970).Google Scholar
  37. Popa, G.T., Popa, F.G.: Certain functions of the midbrain in pigeons. Proc. roy. Soc. B 113, 191–195 (1933).Google Scholar
  38. Potash, L.M.: Vocalizations elicited by electrical brain stimulation in Coturnix coturnix japonica. Behaviour 36, 149–167 (1970).Google Scholar
  39. Potter, H.D.: Mesenoephalic auditory region of the bullfrog. J. Neurophysiol. 28, 1132–1154 (1965).Google Scholar
  40. Putkonen, P.T.S.: Electrical stimulation of the avian brain. Ann. Acad. Sci. fenn. A 130, 1–95 (1967).Google Scholar
  41. Robinson, B.R.: Vocalizations evoked from forebrain in Maccaca mulatta. Physiol. Behav. 2, 345–354 (1967).Google Scholar
  42. St. Paul, U. von: Einfluß von Pharmaka auf die Auslösbarkeit von Verhaltensweisen durch elektrische Reizung. Z. vergl. Physiol. 50, 415–466 (1965).Google Scholar
  43. Schmidt, R.S.: Central mechanisms of frog calling. Behaviour 26, 251–285 (1966).Google Scholar
  44. —: Preoptic activation of frog mating behaviour. Behaviour 30, 239–257 (1968).Google Scholar
  45. Thorpe, W.H.: Bird Song. Cambridge: University Press 1958.Google Scholar
  46. Tinbergen, N.: The Herring Gull's World. London: Collins 1953.Google Scholar
  47. —: Comparative studies of the behaviour of gulls. Behaviour 15, 1–70 (1959).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan D. Delius
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of NeuroscieneesUCSDLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyDurhamEngland

Personalised recommendations