Neurobiology of Vocal Production in Frogs
Dr. Ayako Yamaguchi（山口 文子）
Department of Biology, The University of Utah
Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying behavior presents a formidable challenge requiring a well-chosen model system and sophisticated experimental tools. Vocalizations of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) are an exceptionally well suited model system for this objective. In this species, a simplified mechanism of vocal production allows straightforward interpretations of neuronal activity with respect to behavior, and neural mechanisms of calling can be studied in vitro because fictive vocalizations can be elicited in the isolated brain. Furthermore, the vocalizations of Xenopus are sexually differentiated, and rapid androgen-induced masculinization of female vocalizations provides an invaluable opportunity for determining how new behavior arises from existing neural circuits in response to steroid hormones. In my talk, I will discuss how the vocal central pattern generators (CPG) are constructed, and an unexpected discovery of feedback pathways within the CPG that play a critical role in the rhythm generation. In addition, I will describe our work developing a technique to deliver transgenes into the frog nervous system.