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Using digital images of the zebra finch song system as a tool to teach organizational effects of steroid hormones: a free downloadable module.

Grisham W, Schottler NA, McCauley LM, Pham AP, Ruiz ML, Fong MC, Cui X - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

Bottom Line: Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not.We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains.We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. grisham@lifesci.ucla.edu

ABSTRACT
Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the ease of quantification and experimental manipulation, the zebra finch song system has great potential for use in undergraduate labs. Unfortunately, the underlying costs prohibit use of this system in undergraduate labs. Further, the time required to perform a developmental study renders such undertakings unrealistic within a single academic term. We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains. Students using this library replicate and extend a published experiment examining the dose of estradiol required to masculinize the female zebra finch brain. We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests). We have provided free access to these digital tools at the following website: http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/birdsong.

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RA in a single section from each of our groups. Differences are quite evident and easy to quantify. (Again, students quantify multiple sections for each nucleus of each bird.)
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Figure 3: RA in a single section from each of our groups. Differences are quite evident and easy to quantify. (Again, students quantify multiple sections for each nucleus of each bird.)

Mentions: We use this module to teach about experimental procedures to avoid possible confounds. First, each student is assigned a total of five birds, one from each different treatment condition (control male, control female, and 5, 15, and 50 μg E2 females; see Figure 3). This balancing procedure prevents students’ differential quantification style from potentially confounding the results (discussed further in the Complete Users’ Manual: Thorough Guide to Obtaining and Analyzing Data for Students and Instructors, which can be found on the website). We use this design consideration to illustrate that, when extraneous variables are present and cannot be eliminated, an experiment can be designed so that they do not operate differentially across treatments and potentially confound the results. Second, students are kept blind to the sex and treatment of the birds while they are making measurements of the song system, and we explain to students that this controls for bias.


Using digital images of the zebra finch song system as a tool to teach organizational effects of steroid hormones: a free downloadable module.

Grisham W, Schottler NA, McCauley LM, Pham AP, Ruiz ML, Fong MC, Cui X - CBE Life Sci Educ (2011)

RA in a single section from each of our groups. Differences are quite evident and easy to quantify. (Again, students quantify multiple sections for each nucleus of each bird.)
© Copyright Policy - creative-commons
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105929&req=5

Figure 3: RA in a single section from each of our groups. Differences are quite evident and easy to quantify. (Again, students quantify multiple sections for each nucleus of each bird.)
Mentions: We use this module to teach about experimental procedures to avoid possible confounds. First, each student is assigned a total of five birds, one from each different treatment condition (control male, control female, and 5, 15, and 50 μg E2 females; see Figure 3). This balancing procedure prevents students’ differential quantification style from potentially confounding the results (discussed further in the Complete Users’ Manual: Thorough Guide to Obtaining and Analyzing Data for Students and Instructors, which can be found on the website). We use this design consideration to illustrate that, when extraneous variables are present and cannot be eliminated, an experiment can be designed so that they do not operate differentially across treatments and potentially confound the results. Second, students are kept blind to the sex and treatment of the birds while they are making measurements of the song system, and we explain to students that this controls for bias.

Bottom Line: Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not.We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains.We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA. grisham@lifesci.ucla.edu

ABSTRACT
Zebra finch song behavior is sexually dimorphic: males sing and females do not. The neural system underlying this behavior is sexually dimorphic, and this sex difference is easy to quantify. During development, the zebra finch song system can be altered by steroid hormones, specifically estradiol, which actually masculinizes it. Because of the ease of quantification and experimental manipulation, the zebra finch song system has great potential for use in undergraduate labs. Unfortunately, the underlying costs prohibit use of this system in undergraduate labs. Further, the time required to perform a developmental study renders such undertakings unrealistic within a single academic term. We have overcome these barriers by creating digital tools, including an image library of song nuclei from zebra finch brains. Students using this library replicate and extend a published experiment examining the dose of estradiol required to masculinize the female zebra finch brain. We have used this library for several terms, and students not only obtain significant experimental results but also make gains in understanding content, experimental controls, and inferential statistics (analysis of variance and post hoc tests). We have provided free access to these digital tools at the following website: http://mdcune.psych.ucla.edu/modules/birdsong.

Show MeSH