Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Findley Finseth

Reader 2

Melissa Coleman

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Understanding the genetic basis of behavior is a major goal in neurobiology. Here, we use zebra finch to investigate how changes in gene expression contribute to pair bonding behavior. To this end, we extracted brain tissue from pair-bonded and naïve zebra finch females. Brain tissue was sampled from two regions – the lower striatum, due to its previously described association with mating and social behaviors, and the general forebrain, a control tissue. We used deep, next generation sequencing of RNA (i.e., RNA-Seq) to determine the sequence of all the genes expressed in the various tissues and treatments. We then used bioinformatic tools to assess genes differentially expressed in pair bonded vs. naïve birds for each tissue type. Results showed three major findings: 1) there is a strong signal of pair bonding status on gene expression patterns, 2) the lower striatum has a greater shift in gene expression due to pair bonding than control tissues, and 3) some genes that were differentially expressed in the lower striatum were those that were involved in steroid biosynthesis.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.