Projections of androgen-accumulating neurons in a nucleus controlling avian song.
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In zebra finches, androgens stimulate song production and promote growth of the neural regions controlling song. Early exposure to estrogen establishes this sensitivity to androgens and increases the number of androgen-accumulating cells in two song regions, the hyperstriatum ventralis pars caudalis (HVc) and the magnocellular nucleus of the anterior neostriatum. To examine if these regional changes in androgen accumulation could directly influence androgen responsiveness elsewhere in the song system, we combined autoradiographic and retrograde tracing techniques to determine if androgen-accumulating HVc neurons project to other vocal control nuclei. We report here that both major efferent projections from HVc (to Area X and the nucleus robustus of the archistriatum) include a substantial proportion of androgen-accumulating neurons. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that the extent of androgen accumulation in HVc may in turn regulate the androgenic sensitivity of other song regions.