Although neurogenesis in the brain of adult vertebrates is region dependent, lesion induces generation of new neurons in non-neurogenic brain regions. These findings raise the question of the role of new neurons in brain repair and functional recovery. We addressed this question by applying previous observations that electrolytic lesion induced neurogenesis in the ventromedial nucleus (VMN) of the hypothalamus in adult ring doves. Such lesions disrupted the male's courtship behavior, which could be reinstated after rehabilitation with a female. We investigated whether lesion-induced newborn neurons in the VMN facilitate the recovery of courtship behavior in the lesioned birds. We conducted systematic observations of cytological, morphological, and neuroanatomical changes in the lesioned VMN, and concurrently we monitored behavioral changes. Using a multitude of specific cell markers, we found a well-circumscribed cellular zone that proliferated actively. This highly proliferative zone initially appeared along the periphery of the lesion site, where cells had high levels of expression of neuronal, glial, and neurovascular markers. As newborn neurons matured at the lesion site, the necrosis gradually decreased, whereas a downsized proliferative zone relocated to a region ventral to the VMN. Some of the mature neurons were found to project to the midbrain vocal nuclei. Restoration of these projection neurons coincided with the recovery of courtship vocalization. Finally, we found that a social factor, that is, when the male doves were cohoused with a mate, facilitated neurogenesis and behavioral recovery. These results suggest that lesioninduced neurogenesis contributes to behavioral recovery in adult animals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Adult neurogenesis
- Courtship behavior