Dr. Eric S. Fortune, PhD
  Department of Biological Sciences
  New Jersey Institute of Technology
  Newark, NJ 07102-1982 USA
  Tel: +1 443 312 9610, FAX: +1 973 596 5689
  e-mail: eric.fortune@njit.edu

Research program: electric fish
Research program: songbirds

The schematics below highlight the fundamental issues that we study in songbirds: On the left is the traditional model in which auditory feedback modulates the motor system. On the right shows the model adapted for use with a species of bird that produces an amazing duet song, the Plain-tailed wren (Pheugopedius euophrys). The goal of the work is to understand how auditory information from hearing songs modifies motor circuits for learning, maintenance, and production of song.

My work has focussed on auditory and motor representations of song in HVC of zebra finches and plain-tailed wrens.

Relevant publications

Rouse, M.L., Stevenson, T.J., Fortune, E.S., and G.F. Ball (2015) Reproductive state modulates testosterone-induced singing in adult female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Horm. Behav., 72:78-87, PMID:25989596.
Testosterone-treated female starlings change their singing behavior in relation to reproductive state.
Fortune, E.S., Rodriguez, C., Li, D., Ball, G.F., and M.J. Coleman (2011) Neural mechanisms for the coordination of duet singing in wrens. Science., 334:666-669, PMID:22052048.
This manuscript describes the basic singing patterns used by female and male plain-tailed wrens to produce remarkable duets. We then captured birds, anesthetized them with urethane, and recorded from neurons in the telencephalic song control area known as HVC. We expected that neurons in the female would respond best to the female parts of duets, and male neurons would respond to the male parts. What we found was surprising - neurons in both females and males repsonded best to the duet, and neurons preferred the female parts in both sexes.
Margoliash, D., E.S. Fortune, M. Sutter, C-H. Yu, D. Hardin, and A.Dave (1994) Distributed representation in the song system of oscines: evolutionary implications and functional consequences. Brain Behav. Evol. 44:247-264, PMID:7842284.
A review of thinking about song learning and production. It considers HVc as a form of central pattern generator.
Fortune, E.S. and D. Margoliash (1995) Parallel pathways and convergence onto HVc and adjacent neostriatum of adult male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). J. Comp. Neurol. 360(3): 413-441, PMID:8543649.
This paper has two major parts: a descriptive definition of HVc based on Nissl stained material and the connectivity of HVc and adjacent areas based on injection of tracers. There are three major conclusions: 1. HVc is composed of 3 cytoarchitectonically distinct regions. One of these regions has indistinct borders from adjacent neostriatum. 2. HVc receives direct input from a small number of neurons in field L. 3. Areas adjacent to HVc receive and send parallel projections to those of HVc.
Fortune, E.S. and D. Margoliash (1992) Cytoarchitectonic organization and morphology of cells of the field L complex in adult male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). J. Comp. Neurol., 325:388-404, PMID:1447407.
A detailed description of the anatomy of "field L" of the Nidopallium.
Margoliash, D. and E.. Fortune (1992) Temporal and harmonic combination-sensitive neurons in the zebra finch's HVc. J. Neurosci., 12:4309-4326, PMID:1432096.
The most complex, both in the temporal and spectral domains, selectivities for acoustic signals in any animal system are described in this paper. These complex selectivities are produced by the song-learning process.
@ericfortunephd 11-Dec-2015