Early exposure to salient cues can critically shape the development of social behaviors. For example, both oscine birds and humans can hear and learn to recognize familiar sounds in ovo and in utero and recognize them following hatching and birth, respectively. Here we demonstrate that different chronic acoustic playbacks alter genome-wide methylation of the auditory forebrain in late-stage zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) embryos. Within the same subjects, immediate early gene activation in response to acute con- or heterospecific song exposure is negatively correlated with methylation extent in response to repeated daily prior exposure to the same type of stimuli. Specifically, we report less relative global methylation following playbacks of conspecific songs and more methylation following playbacks of distantly-related heterospecific songs. These findings offer a neuroepigenomic mechanism for the ontogenetic impacts of early acoustic experiences in songbirds.
- Recognition systems
- Song learning