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Science 305 (5682): 404-407

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Steroid-Dependent Auditory Plasticity Leads to Adaptive Coupling of Sender and Receiver

Joseph A. Sisneros,*{dagger} Paul M. Forlano, David L. Deitcher, Andrew H. Bass{dagger}

Abstract: For seasonally breeding vertebrates, reproductive cycling is often coupled with changes in vocalizations that function in courtship and territoriality. Less is known about changes in auditory sensitivity to those vocalizations. Here, we show that nonreproductive female midshipman fish treated with either testosterone or 17ß-estradiol exhibit an increase in the degree of temporal encoding of the frequency content of male vocalizations by the inner ear that mimics the reproductive female's auditory phenotype. This sensory plasticity provides an adaptable mechanism that enhances coupling between sender and receiver in vocal communication.

Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

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* Present address: Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Guthrie Hall, Box 351525, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: sisneros{at}u.washington.edu (J.A.S); ahb3{at}cornell.edu (A.H.B.)


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