"In order for the brain to control reproductive behaviour, there must be nerve pathways that link higher brain centres with spinal motor neurons that innervate the muscles producing the behaviour. Knowledge of these pathways in the brainstem and spinal cord is presently either controversial or lacking in birds. In this proposal these pathways will be defined precisely in both songbirds and non-songbirds by charting the essential neuroanatomical links between the hypothalamus and other centres in the forebrain, the brainstem, and motor neurons in the spinal cord that innervate muscles involved in reproductive behaviour. Because the external stimuli eliciting reproductive behaviour differ in different avian species, the pathways will be defined in a songbird - in which reproductive behaviour is elicited by the auditory stimulus of the male’s song - and in a non-songbird – in which reproductive behaviour is elicited by visual and possibly olfactory stimuli. Investigation of the pathways will use state of the art tract tracing techniques, which the applicant has used previously to define several neurobehavioural systems in the avian brain. Collaboration with the host - who is a world expert on the hormonal control of avian reproductive behaviour – will ensure the discovery of new and exciting knowledge regarding the neural and hormonal control of reproduction behaviour in birds."
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