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Dr. Jonathan  Heston   image

Dr. Jonathan Heston

100 Stein Plz 1-340
Los Angeles CA 90095
310 255-5000
Medical School: Other - Unknown
Accepts Medicare: No
Participates In eRX: No
Participates In PQRS: No
Participates In EHR: No
License #: C132216
NPI: 1083016836
Taxonomy Codes:
207W00000X

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Publications

Peripheral androgen action helps modulate vocal production in a suboscine passerine. - The Auk
Androgenic activation of intracellular androgen receptors (AR) influences avian vocal production, though this has largely been investigated at the level of the brain. We investigated the influence of predominantly peripheral AR on vocal output in wild Golden-collared Manakins (Manacus vitellinus). In this suboscine species, males court females by performing acrobatic displays and by producing relatively simple chee-poo vocalizations. To assess whether peripheral AR influences the acoustic structure of these vocal signals, we treated reproductively active adult males with the peripherally selective antiandrogen bicalutamide and then measured phonation performance. Inhibiting AR outside of the central nervous system increased the duration of the chee note and decreased the fundamental frequency of the poo note. This treatment caused no discernable change to chee-poo frequency modulation or entropy. Our results show that activation of peripheral AR mediates note-specific changes to temporal and pitch characteristics of the Golden-collared Manakin's main sexual call. Thus, our study provides one of the first demonstrations that androgenic action originating outside of the brain and likely on musculoskeletal targets can modulate avian vocal production.
Behavior-linked FoxP2 regulation enables zebra finch vocal learning. - The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Mutations in the FOXP2 transcription factor cause an inherited speech and language disorder, but how FoxP2 contributes to learning of these vocal communication signals remains unclear. FoxP2 is enriched in corticostriatal circuits of both human and songbird brains. Experimental knockdown of this enrichment in song control neurons of the zebra finch basal ganglia impairs tutor song imitation, indicating that adequate FoxP2 levels are necessary for normal vocal learning. In unmanipulated birds, vocal practice acutely downregulates FoxP2, leading to increased vocal variability and dynamic regulation of FoxP2 target genes. To determine whether this behavioral regulation is important for song learning, here, we used viral-driven overexpression of FoxP2 to counteract its downregulation. This manipulation disrupted the acute effects of song practice on vocal variability and caused inaccurate song imitation. Together, these findings indicate that dynamic behavior-linked regulation of FoxP2, rather than absolute levels, is critical for vocal learning.Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/352885-10$15.00/0.
Expression analysis of the speech-related genes FoxP1 and FoxP2 and their relation to singing behavior in two songbird species. - The Journal of experimental biology
Humans and songbirds are among the rare animal groups that exhibit socially learned vocalizations: speech and song, respectively. These vocal-learning capacities share a reliance on audition and cortico-basal ganglia circuitry, as well as neurogenetic mechanisms. Notably, the transcription factors Forkhead box proteins 1 and 2 (FoxP1, FoxP2) exhibit similar expression patterns in the cortex and basal ganglia of humans and the zebra finch species of songbird, among other brain regions. Mutations in either gene are associated with language disorders in humans. Experimental knock-down of FoxP2 in the basal ganglia song control region Area X during song development leads to imprecise copying of tutor songs. Moreover, FoxP2 levels decrease naturally within Area X when zebra finches sing. Here, we examined neural expression patterns of FoxP1 and FoxP2 mRNA in adult Bengalese finches, a songbird species whose songs exhibit greater sequence complexity and increased reliance on audition for maintaining their quality. We found that FoxP1 and FoxP2 expression in Bengalese finches is similar to that in zebra finches, including strong mRNA signals for both factors in multiple song control nuclei and enhancement of FoxP1 in these regions relative to surrounding brain tissue. As with zebra finches, when Bengalese finches sing, FoxP2 is behaviorally downregulated within basal ganglia Area X over a similar time course, and expression negatively correlates with the amount of singing. This study confirms that in multiple songbird species, FoxP1 expression highlights song control regions, and regulation of FoxP2 is associated with motor control of song.

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100 Stein Plz 1-340 Los Angeles, CA 90095
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