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Welcome to the Hollis Cline Lab
Lab Members

Christopher Thompson

Research Associate (2011 - present)

BS Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution U of Illinois Champaign/Urbana
PhD Neurobiology and Behavior U of Washington

Past positions: Post-doctoral Fellow, Freie Universität, Berlin Germany

My research focuses on which factors regulate plasticity of behaviorally-relevant brain circuits. One critical issue is how changes in the proliferation rate of new neurons affects their integration and connectivity to afferent inputs. This is a critical issue because very little is known how the rate of neural stem cell proliferation alters the structure of already functioning brain circuits. The retinotectal system off the African clawed tadpole (Xenopus laevis) is an ideal model for addressing this issue because neuronal processes can be easily imaged in this well-characterized brain circuit. I will manipulate the rate neuronal proliferation in the optic tectum by altering thyroid hormone signaling, which is a critical regulator of nervous system development in frogs, because exogenous thyroid hormone potentiates neurogenesis, and blocking thyroid hormone signaling attenuates it. Thus I will alter the rate of proliferation and observe how the axons of retinal ganglion cells respond to changes in the numbers of target neurons in the optic tectum.


Scharff C and Thompson CK. 2013. A birds-eye view of FoxP2. Contribution to “Birdsong, Speech, and Language: Exploring the Evolution of Mind and Brain” MIT Press.

Düring DN, Ziegler A, Thompson CK, Ziegler A, Faber C, Müller J, Scharff C, Elemans CP. 2013. The songbird syrinx morphome: a three-dimensional, high-resolution, interactive morphological map of the zebra finch vocal organ. BMC Biol. 11:1.

Thompson CK, Schwabe F, Schoof A, Mendoza E, Gampe J, Rochefort C, Scharff C. 2013. Young and intense: FoxP2 immunoreactivity in Area X varies with age, song stereotypy, and singing in male zebra finches. Front Neural Circuits. 7:24.

Thompson CK*, Meitzen J*, Replogle K, Lent KL, Wissman AM, Farin F, Bammler TK, Beyer RP, Clayton DF, Perkel DJ, Brenowitz EA. 2011. The forebrain song control nuclei HVC and RA show different patterns of gene expression across changing breeding conditions. Accepted pending revision PLoS One

Thompson CK. 2011. Cell death and the song control system: A model for how sex steroid hormones regulate naturally-occurring neurodegeneration. Development, Growth & Differentiation 53:213-224.

Thompson CK, Brenowitz EA. 2010. Neuroprotective effects of testosterone in a naturally-occurring model of neurodegeneration in the adult avian song control system. J Comp Neurol. 2010 Dec 1;518(23):4760-70.

Thompson CK, Brenowitz EA. 2009. Neurogenesis in an Adult Avian Song Nucleus Is Reduced by Decreasing Caspase-Mediated Apoptosis. J. Neurosci. 29:4586-4591.  

Meitzen J, Thompson CK, Choi H, Perkel DJ, Brenowitz EA. 2009. Time course of changes in Gambel's white-crowned sparrow song behavior following transitions in breeding condition. Horm Behav. 55:217-227.  

Thompson CK, Brenowitz EA. 2008. Caspase inhibitor infusion protects an avian song control circuit from seasonal-like neurodegeneration. J Neurosci 28:7130-6. 

Meitzen J*, Thompson CK*. 2008. Seasonal-like growth and regression of the avian song control system: neural and behavioral plasticity in adult male Gambel's white-crowned sparrows. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 157:259–265.  

Thompson CK, Bentley G, Brenowitz EA. 2007. Rapid seasonal-like regression of the adult avian song control system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:15520-5.  

Thompson CK, Brenowitz EA. 2005. Seasonal change in neuron size and spacing but not neuronal recruitment in a basal ganglia nucleus in the avian song control system. J Comp Neurol 481:276-83.  

Cunningham M, Krasnow S, Gevers E, Chen P, Thompson CK, Robinson I, Smith M, Clifton D, Steiner R. 2004. Regulation of galanin-like peptide gene expression by pituitary hormones and their downstream targets. J Neuroendocrinol 16:10-8.  

Sperry T, Thompson CK, Wingfield J. 2003. Effects of acute treatment with 8-OH-DPAT and fluoxetine on aggressive behaviour in male song sparrows (Melospiza melodia morphna). J Neuroendocrinol 15:150-60.  

Shapira M, Thompson CK, Soreq H, Robinson G. 2001. Changes in neuronal acetylcholinesterase gene expression and division of labor in honey bee colonies. J Mol Neurosci 17:1-12. 

Ben-Shahar Y, Thompson CK, Hartz SM, Smith BH, Robinson GE. 2000. Differences in performance on a reversal learning test and division of labor in honey bee colonies. Animal Cognition 3:119–125.  

* shared first authorship