My lab is interested in the function and regulation of new neurons born in the post-embryonic brain, particularly in adulthood. Although we have known about adult neurogenesis for decades, the relationship between new neurons and behavior remains unclear. To study this brain-behavior relationship, we are focusing on new neurons that are incorporated into the motor pathway underlying the production of learned song motor patterns in songbirds.
New neurons are born in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles and migrate throughout the telencephalon where they become incorporated into existing networks. One region that incorporates new neurons is the nucleus HVC, which is a component of the song motor pathway and is one of our regions of interest. After new neurons reach HVC, many die within their first month of cell life. After this initial culling period, these young HVC neurons can live for many months before being replaced. One question we are interested in is whether behavioral factors may influence the survival of new neurons.