Talk | Manfred Gahr

"Hormone-dependent Vocal Communication of Songbirds"

Manfred Gahr

Department of Behavioral Neurobiology, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, GER

Hormone-dependent Vocal Communication of Songbirds

About the talk

Vocal communication including singing of songbirds is controlled by a multi-area circuit that is composed of steroid hormone-sensitive neuron populations. Most of these areas express androgen receptors, the target of testosterone; the song area HVC expresses in addition receptors for estrogens. Testosterone and its estrogenic derivatives affect vocal communication dynamics as well as song pattern. Testosterone and estrogen act locally in HVC to change gene expression in a species-specific manner since genomic hormone-sensitivity differs between songbird species. These hormone-driven changes of gene expression are area-specific, fast and concern many genes. In the canary, among these genes, one hub-gene is BDNF that induces singing with high repetition rates (a sexy song features) if locally overexpressed in HVC. In concert with other testosterone-dependent gene networks, elevated levels of BDNF facilitate differentiation of large song syllable repertoires. I further discuss how the hormones affect the anatomy and physiology of the syllable producing neural circuits.

About the speaker


  • 2006- | Director at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Department of Behavioral Neurobiology; Professor for Behavioral Neurobiology at the Faculty of Biology, LMU University of Munich
  • 1998-2006 | Full Professor, Department of Developmental and Behavioral Neurobiology, VU University of Amsterdam
  • 1993-1998 | Junior Group Leader of the Max Planck Society, Max Planck Institute of Behavioral Physiology

Professional Preparation

  • University of Kaiserslautern, Diploma Biology (1985)
  • University of Kaiserslautern, PhD Zoology (1988)
  • LMU University of Munich Habilitation Zoology (1996)

Lecture Hall B (NIG)

Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG)
Universitätsstraße 7 (6th floor)
A-1010 Wien