Developmental regulation of NMDA receptor 2B subunit mRNA and ifenprodil binding in the zebra finch anterior forebrain. Academic Article uri icon


  • In passerine songbirds, song learning often is restricted to an early sensitive period and requires the participation of several discrete regions within the anterior forebrain. Activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors is implicated in song learning and in one forebrain song region, the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum (IMAN), NMDA receptors decrease in density, their affinity for the antagonist MK-801 increases, and their currents decay more quickly as young male zebra finches lose the ability to imitate new song elements. These developmental changes in NMDA receptor pharmacology and physiology suggest that the subunit composition of NMDA receptors changes developmentally. Here, we have used in situ hybridization and [3H]ifenprodil receptor autoradiography to study the developmental regulation of the NMDA receptor 2B subunit (NR2B) within the anterior forebrain of male zebra finches. NR2B mRNA expression within the IMAN was twice as great in 30-day-old males (early in the sensitive period for song learning) as in adult males, and this developmental decrease in NR2B mRNA expression was mirrored by a decrease in high-affinity (NR2B-associated) [3H]ifenprodil binding within this song region. In another anterior forebrain song region, Area X, NR2B mRNA also declined significantly after 30 days posthatch, but this decline was not accompanied by a significant decrease in [3H]ifenprodil binding. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that developmental changes in NMDA receptor function mediated by regulation of subunit composition contribute to the sensitive period for vocal learning in birds.

published proceedings

  • J Neurobiol

author list (cited authors)

  • Basham, M. E., Sohrabji, F., Singh, T. D., Nordeen, E. J., & Nordeen, K. W.

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Basham, ME||Sohrabji, F||Singh, TD||Nordeen, EJ||Nordeen, KW

publication date

  • May 1999