Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2011 Sarah J. Bricault. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




The avian nucleus Parambigualis (PAm) is an essential element of the song production and respiratory pathways, but little is known about this brainstem area. PAm projects to motor neurons in the spinal cord that control the inspiratory portion of the respiratory cycle. It has also been shown to project bilaterally to the control centers of the song production pathway, namely HVC, via an intermediate nucleus called Uvaeformis (Uva). It thus has potential roles in both interhemispheric coordination and feedback-dependent control of song production (Ashmore et al, 2008). The achieved goal of this study was to use techniques of electrophysiology, histology, and computer analysis to establish a baseline of knowledge about the individual neurons present in this respiratory nucleus. Surgeries were performed on anesthetized adult male zebra finches and an extracellular electrode was used to record from respiratory neurons within PAm. This study categorized 130 neurons in PAm based on their phase-locking to the respiratory cycle and found that the six primary subtypes are the same as those identified in mammalian respiratory neurons. The most common subtypes were Inspiratory- Augmenting and Pre-Inspiratory. Subsequent histological examination showed that there is no significant localization of any neuronal subtypes within PAm. Finally, several dual electrode surgeries were performed to obtain simultaneous PAm and contralateral HVC recordings. These surgeries suggest that PAm neurons exhibiting ascending projections constitute a very small amount (less than 5%) of the total neurons in this brainstem nucleus.