Nicotine-mediated plasticity in robust nucleus of the archistriatum of the adult zebra finch

Delanthi Salgado-Commissariat, David B. Rosenfield, Santosh Helekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Activation of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) modulates the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP), a possible cellular mechanism for learning. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of activation of nAChRs by nicotine on long-term plasticity in the songbird zebra finch, which is a valuable model to study synaptic plasticity and its implications to behavioral learning. Electrophysiological recordings in the robust nucleus of the archistriatum (RA) in adult zebra finch brain slices reveal that tetanic stimulation alone does not produce LTP. However, LTP is induced by such stimulation in the presence of nicotine. The nicotine-mediated LTP is blocked by dihydro-β-erythroidine (DHβE, 1 μM), an antagonist having a greater effect against nAChRs containing the alpha 4 subunit. In the presence of methyllcaconitine (MLA, 10 nM), an antagonist of nAChRs containing the alpha 7 subunit, a long-term depression (LTD) is unmasked, implicating a bi-directional type of plasticity in the zebra finch RA, which is modulated by differential activation of nAChR subtypes. Intracellular recordings from single neurons show a depression of the afterhyperpolarization (AHP) and an increase in frequency of evoked and spontaneous action potentials in the presence of nicotine. These results suggest that nicotinic cholinergic mechanisms may play a critical role in synaptic plasticity in the zebra finch song system and thereby influence song learning and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 20 2004


  • acetylcholine
  • ACh
  • long-term depression
  • long-term potentiation
  • LTD
  • LTP
  • nAChR
  • Neural basis of behavior
  • Neural plasticity
  • Nicotine
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
  • Plasticity
  • RA
  • robust nucleus of the archistriatum
  • Song nucleus
  • Songbird
  • Zebra finch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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