Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) modulates auditory processing in the fish brain

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Gonadotropin-releasing hormone 1 (GnRH1) neurons control reproductive activity, but GnRH2 and GnRH3 neurons have widespread projections and function as neuromodulators in the vertebrate brain. While these extra-hypothalamic GnRH forms function as olfactory and visual neuromodulators, their potential effect on processing of auditory information is unknown. To test the hypothesis that GnRH modulates the processing of auditory information in the brain, we used immunohistochemistry to determine seasonal variations in these neuropeptide systems, and in vivo single-neuron recordings to identify neuromodulation in the midbrain torus semicircularis of the soniferous damselfish Abudefduf abdominalis. Our results show abundant GnRH-immunoreactive (-ir) axons in auditory processing regions of the midbrain and hindbrain. The number of extra-hypothalamic GnRH somata and the density of GnRH-ir axons within the auditory torus semicircularis also varied across the year, suggesting seasonal changes in GnRH influence of auditory processing. Exogenous application of GnRH (sGnRH and cGnRHII) caused a primarily inhibitory effect on auditory-evoked single neuron responses in the torus semicircularis. In the majority of neurons, GnRH caused a long-lasting decrease in spike rate in response to both tone bursts and playbacks of complex natural sounds. GnRH also decreased response latency and increased auditory thresholds in a frequency and stimulus type-dependent manner. To our knowledge, these results show for the first time in any vertebrate that GnRH can influence context-specific auditory processing in vivo in the brain, and may function to modulate seasonal auditory-mediated social behaviors. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

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Hormones and Behavior

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