Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Michelle L. Tomaszycki


Dopamine is one of the key ingredients in the glue that cements social bonds in vertebrates. The D2 dopamine receptor has been implicated in the regulation of monogamous pair bonding in the prairie vole. While dopamine affects courtship behaviors in the male zebra finch, the behavioral role of dopamine acting at D2 receptors in both males and females deserves further attention. We hypothesized that the D2 receptor would regulate courtship and pairing behaviors in the male and female zebra finch. Sixteen males and females were tested using a repeated measures design. On day 1, the zebra finches were injected with 0.5 μg/ml of raclopride, a D2 receptor antagonist, GBR-12909, a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, or the vehicle. Then, birds of the opposite sex were introduced and behavior was recorded. On day 2, the same males and females were placed together without injections and their behavior was recorded. Data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVAs and followed by paired samples t-tests. Surprisingly, neither treatment affected female behavior. However, directed singing was decreased when males were injected with raclopride compared to the day they were injected with saline. There was also a significant increase in directed singing the day after the males were injected with raclopride. Contrary to our hypothesis, GBR-12909 also caused significant decreases in courtship behavior. These results indicate that dopamine acting at the D2 dopamine receptor plays a role in the courtship of the male zebra finch, but does not appear to alter the behavior of females.