Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Elaine Day

Relational Format



The traditional view of cerebellar processing has been that it plays a role in motor planning and function, now the cerebellum is also believed to be involved in spatial learning and cognition. Like the cerebellum’s involvement in cognition the role of estrogen in cerebellar functioning has only recently been investigated. The cerebellum normally has low levels of estrogen but aromatase activity is upregulated after brain injury, increasing estrogen levels. This upregulation after injury suggests that estrogen could be involved in neuroprotection. This study uses male zebra finches to investigate the role of the cerebellum in spatial function and the possible role of estrogen in recovery of function after cerebellar lesion. To test the hypotheses that estrogen aids in recovery of spatial abilities after cerebellar lesion, we developed a maze for small birds to test spatial abilities. To examine recovery of function, I made bilateral puncture lesions to the cerebellum or performed a sham lesion (controls). I compared sham birds, to birds with bilateral lesions to the cerebellum, either given a control vehicle or fed vehicle + letrozole to block estrogen synthesis. Our findings suggest that the cerebellum is involved in spatial function and that estrogen improves the outcome of behavioral recovery after cerebellar lesions.

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