Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Carolyn Pytte

Committee Members

Joshua Brumberg

David Lahti

Hysell Oviedo

Mimi Phan

Subject Categories

Behavioral Neurobiology


songbird, learning, memory, electrophysiology, hemispheric asymmetry, cholesterol


In the first part of this paper, we investigated the basic relationship between learning, memory and adult neurogenesis using zebra finches. We found that in the auditory cortex, the left hemisphere had more new neurons than the right hemisphere. This lateralization was correlated with song learning and memory. In the second part, we used juvenile zebra finches as a model organism to study the effects of Lipitor on learning, memory and neurogenesis. We found that Lipitor impaired song learning and memory storage. Lipitor treatments also changed the morphology of new neurons and size of old neurons, suggesting statins may affect neurons that are important to learning and memory during the critical learning period. In the last part, we investigated whether the degree of lipophilicity determines the effects of statins on memory and neurogenesis in adult birds. Our results showed that birds treated with hydrophilic pravastatin had weaker memory than control birds, suggesting that lipophilicity may not be the only factor that determines the effects of statins on memory.