Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Michelle L. Tomaszycki


Social relationships are complex and likely involve the multiple neural circuits, including those involved in learning, memory, motivation, and attention. Two neurotransmitter pathways highly involved in these neural circuits are norepinephrine (NE) and the nonapeptides, vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT). There is extensive research implicating a role for the nonapeptides in trust, sociality, parental care, and romantic relationships. There is little direct evidence for the role of nonapeptides in monogamous relationships in any species other than the prairie vole (Goodson 2013). However, there is evidence that nonapeptides are important in pair bonding for both male and female zebra finches (Lowrey & Tomaszycki, 2014) and treatment with an OT antagonist results in an increased latency to pair in both sexes (Pederson & Tomaszycki, 2012). Thus, the role of nonapeptides in monogamous social behavior deserves further investigation. The role of NE in the avian song system has also been extensively studied, but, to date, only one study has examined the role of NE in courtship. Depleting NE in male zebra finches resulted in a decrease in courtship behaviors and a latency to form a pair bond (Vahaba, Lacey, & Tomaszycki, 2013), indicating that NE does play a role in courtship and pair bonding. I hypothesize that OT modulates the noradrenergic system by increasing the level of alpha-adrenoceptor (ADRA) mRNA within the song system and auditory system to mediate male courtship behaviors and female choice.