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Hippocampal connectivity in the zebra finch

Project Full Title:

Sex differences in afferent and efferent connectivity of the hippocampal formation of the zebra finch

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Project Description:

Social relationships have been shown to buffer the effects of stressors and contribute to an increase in an individualís overall health and wellbeing, while the disruption of these relationships via the death of a spouse or divorce, have been shown to activate the adrenocortical axis. However, little is known about the underlying neurobiological mechanisms which mediate changes in the adrenocortical axis in response to the dissolution of a pair bond. Unlike mammals, about 90 percent of avian species form monogamous pair bonds to a varying extent ranging from lifelong pair bonds to those that are maintained during one breeding season. My previous work demonstrated a sex dependent response to mate loss suggesting that male and female zebra finches may perceive the stressful effects of mate pair separation in different ways. These data also shed light on potential sex differences in the underlying neurocircuitry. The purpose of this summer research project is to characterize possible sex differences in hippocampal neurocircuitry that may mediate previously demonstrated differences to psychological stressors in the zebra finch.

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