Eliot Brenowitz

Image of Eliot Brenowitz

Eliot Brenowitz, Ph.D.

Professor
(206) 543-8534
Advising: Not accepting new graduate students in 2023-2024.
Interests: Animal Behavior, Neuroethology, Neuroendocrinology, Animal Communication
Links:

Research

My research involves the integration between mechanism and function in animal behavior, with an emphasis on acoustic communication in birds and frogs. The principal current focus is on the song control system in the brains of songbirds. I emphasize a comparative, evolutionary approach to this system, and combine behavioral studies in the field with laboratory techniques in neuroendocrinology, neuroanatomy, moleclular biology, and signal analysis. I am currently pursuing two major topics of study in the song system. One concerns the physiological and molecular mechanisms and behavioral consequences of seasonal plasticity observed in the morphology of song regions of the brain. The second stems from the observation that neurons in song control nuclei receive input from auditory regions, and respond selectively to the presentation of conspecific song. I am investigating the role of song nuclei in the behavioral recognition of conspecific song in the contexts of mate choice and territorial defense.

Education

Cornell (1982)

  • Brenowitz, E.A. and Larson, T.L. in press. Neurogenesis in the Adult Avian Song Control System. In: Adult Neurogenesis. F.H. Gage, G. Kempermann, and H. Song (Eds.).
  • Brenowitz, E.A. 2015. Transsynaptic trophic effects of steroid hormones in an avian model of adult brain plasticity. Frontiers in Neuroscience 37119-128.
  • Brenowitz, E.A. and Zakon, H.H. 2015. Emerging from the bottleneck: Benefits of the comparative approach to modern neuroscience. Trends in Neuroscience 38:273-278.
  • Caras, M.L., Rubel, E.W., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2015. Estradiol modulates spike timing-based intensity discrimination. Journal of Neuroscience. 35:3431–3445.
  • Larson, T.A., Lent, K.L., Bammler, T.K., MacDonald, J.W., Wood, W.E., Caras, M.L., Thatra, N.M., Budzillo, A., Perkel, D.J., and Brenowitz, E.A. Network analysis of microRNA and mRNA seasonal dynamics in a highly neurogenic sensorimotor neural circuit. BMC Genomics, in press
  • Larson, T.A., Thatra, N., Lee, B., Brenowitz, E.A. 2014. Reactive neurogenesis in response to naturally occurring apoptosis in an adult brain. Journal of Neuroscience 34:13066 –13076
  • Brenowitz, E. 2013. Testosterone and BDNF interactions in the avian song control system. Neuroscience 239:115-123.
  • Larson, T.A., Wang, T-W., Gale, S.D., Thatra, N.M., Caras, M.L., Perkel, D.J., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2013. Postsynaptic neural activity regulates neuronal addition in the adult avian song control system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110:16640-16644.
  • Caras, M.L., O’Brien, M.O., Brenowitz, E.A. and Rubel, E.W. 2012. Estradiol selectively enhances auditory function in avian forebrain neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 49:17597-17611.
  • Thompson, C.K. and Brenowitz, E.A. 2010. Neuroprotective effects of testosterone in a naturally-occurring model of neurodegeneration in the adult avian song control system. Journal of Comparative Neurology 518:4760–4770.
  • Thompson, C.K. and Brenowitz, E.A. 2009. Neurogenesis in an adult avian song nucleus is reduced by decreasing caspase-mediated apoptosis. Journal of Neuroscience 29:4586–4591.
  • Thompson, C.K. and Brenowitz, E.A. 2008. Caspase inhibitor infusion protects an avian song control circuit from seasonal-like neurodegeneration. Journal of Neuroscience 28:7130 –7136.
  • Thompson, C.K., Bentley, G.E., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2007. Rapid regression of the avian song control system following a transition from breeding to non-breeding physiology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 15520–15525
  • Reeves, B.J., Beecher, M.D., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2003. Seasonal changes in avian song control circuits do not cause seasonal changes in song discrimination in song sparrows. Journal of Neurobiology 57:119-129.
  • Tramontin, A.D., Wingfield, J.C., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2003. Androgens and estrogens induce seasonal-like growth of song nuclei in the adult songbird brain. Journal of Neurobiology 57:130-140.
  • Brenowitz, E. 2002. Birdsong: integrating physics, physiology, and behavior. Journal of Comparative Physiology 188:827-828.
  • Brenowitz, E.A. and Lent, K. 2002. Act locally and think globally: intracerebral testosterone implants induce seasonal-like growth of adult avian song control circuits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99:12421-12426.
  • Schlinger, B.A. and Brenowitz, E.A. 2002. Neural and hormonal control of birdsong. In: Donald Pfaff (Ed.), Hormones, Brain, and Behavior, vol. 2, pp. 799-839. Academic Press.
  • Brenowitz, E.A. and Lent, K. 2001. Afferent input is necessary for seasonal growth and maintenance of adult avian song control circuits. Journal of Neuroscience 21:2320-2329.
  • Tramontin, A.D., Perfito, N., Wingfield, J.C., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2001. Seasonal growth of song control nuclei precedes seasonal reproductive development in wild adult song sparrows. General and Comparative Endocrinology 122:1-9.
  • Burt, J., Lent, K., Beecher, M.D., Brenowitz, E.A. 2000. Lesions of the anterior forebrain pathway in female canaries affect song perception. Journal of Neurobiology 42:1-13.
  • Tramontin, A.D. and Brenowitz, E.A. 2000. Seasonal plasticity in adult brains. Invited submission to Trends in Neuroscience 23:251-258.
  • Tramontin, A.D., Hartman, V.N., and Brenowitz, E.A. 2000. Seasonal cues induce rapid and sequential growth in adult avian song control circuits. Journal of Neuroscience 20:854-861.
  • Brenowitz, E.A. and Rose, G.J. 1999. Female choice and male calling plasticity in the Pacific treefrog. Animal Behaviour 57:1337-1342.
  • Tramontin, A.D. and Brenowitz, E.A. 1999. A field study of seasonal neuronal incorporation into the song control system of a songbird that lacks adult song learning. Journal of Neurobiology 40:316-326..
  • Tramontin, A.D., Wingfield, J.C., and Brenowitz, E.A. 1999. Contributions of social cues and photoperiod to seasonal plasticity in the adult avian song control system. Journal of Neuroscience 19:476-483.
  • Searcy, W. and Brenowitz, E. 1988. Sexual differences in species recognition of avian song. Nature 332:152-154.
  • Tramontin, A.D., Smith, G.T., Breuner, C.W., and Brenowitz, E.A. 1998. Seasonal plasticity and sexual dimorphism in the avian song control system: stereological measurement of neuron density and number. Journal of Comparative Neurology 396:186-192.
  • Brenowitz, E. 1997. Comparative approaches to study of the avian song control system. Journal of Neurobiology 33:517-531.
  • Brenowitz, E., Margoliash, D., and Nordeen, K.W. 1997. An introduction to birdsong and the avian song system. Journal of Neurobiology 33:495-500.
  • Smith, G.T., Brenowitz, E.A., and Wingfield, J.C. 1997. Roles of photoperiod and testosterone in seasonal plasticity of the avian song control system. J. Neurobiology 32:426-442.
  • Smith, G.T., Brenowitz, E.A., and Wingfield, J.C. 1997. Seasonal changes in testosterone, neural attributes of song control nuclei, and song structure in wild songbirds. Journal of Neuroscience 17:6001-6010.
  • Brenowitz, E., Lent, K., and Kroodsma, D. 1995. Brain space for learned song in birds develops independently of song learning. Journal of Neuroscience 15:6281-6286.
  • Brenowitz, E. and Rose, G. 1994. Behavioral plasticity mediates aggression in choruses of the Pacific treefrog. Animal Behaviour 47:633-641.
  • Brenowitz, E. 1991. Altered perception of species-specific song by female birds after lesions of a forebrain nucleus. Science 251:303-305.
  • Brenowitz, E., Kroodsma, D., Nalls, B., and Wingfield, J. 1991. Seasonal changes in avian song control nuclei without seasonal changes in song repertoires. Journal of Neuroscience 11:1367-1374.