The neurobiology of birdsong, as a model for human speech, is a fast growing area of research in the neurosciences and involves electrophysiological, histological and more recently magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approaches. Many of these studies require the identification and localization of different brain areas (nuclei) involved in the sensory and motor control of song.
Until now, the only published atlases of songbird brains consisted in drawings based on histological slices of the canary and of the zebra finch brain.
Taking advantage of high-magnetic field (7 Tesla) MRI technique, we present the first high-resolution (80 × 160 × 160 µm) 3-D digital atlas in stereotaxic coordinates of a male zebra finch brain, the most widely used species in the study of birdsong neurobiology. Image quality allowed us to discern most of the song control, auditory and visual nuclei.
This zebra finch MRI atlas should become a very useful tool for neuroscientists working on birdsong, especially for co-registration of MRI data but also for determining accurately the optimal coordinates and angular approach for injections or electrophysiological recordings.
The atlas and its manual can be freely downloaded and can be interactively explored with MRIcro. It is protected by a password to be able to track who uses the atlas, please request the password if you would like to use the atlas.