The pineal gland and its hormone melatonin are crucial for the generation of circadian rhythms in several species of passerine birds. The sites and mechanisms by which they influence avian behavior are therefore of particular interest. Recent research employing several brain imaging techniques has indicated that the sites of melatonin action within the avian brain are wide-spread within the 4 major visual pathways. In this study, we have investigated whether the avian homologue of the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus, the visual suprachiasmatic nucleus (vSCN), and other visually sensitive structures express circadian rhythms of 2-deoxy[14C]glucose (2DG) uptake and 2[125I]iodomelatonin (IMEL) binding in house sparrows, Passer domesticus, under constant environmental conditions in the presence or absence of the pineal gland. The results indicate that 2DG uptake in the vSCN is oscillatory in sham-operated sparrows but damps to arrhythmicity in pinealectomized birds, suggesting this structure contains a damped circadian oscillator independent of pineal input. We have also asked whether IMEL binding is rhythmic under these conditions in the same brains. These results indicate IMEL binding is rhythmic in several structures in the circadian, tectofugal, thalamofugal visual pathways and that pinealectomy increases the level of IMEL binding 2-4 fold suggesting that IMEL binding is down regulated by endogenous melatonin. However, the circadian rhythm of this binding is only gradually abolished, suggesting it too is regulated by a non-pineal circadian clock. These data are discussed in the context of the behavioral neurobiology of avian circadian systems and the neuroendocrine loop model.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Physiology A|
|State||Published - Dec 1993|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Behavioral Neuroscience