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Behav Processes. 2011 Nov;88(3):162-7. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2011.09.001. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

The effects of repeated early deprivation on ultrasonic vocalizations and ontogenetic development in mandarin vole pups.

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  • 1Institute of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, College of Life Sciences, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China.


Early deprivation is popularly used in rodent models as an early life social stress to investigate and determine the factors that affect the development of the brain and behavior. Ultrasonic calls made by pups play an important role in parental-pup interactions during the neonatal period. However, whether repeated early deprivation affects the properties of ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) produced by mandarin vole (Microtus mandarinus) pups, and whether ontogenetic development is subsequently affected, remains unclear. Here we measured USVs and developmental parameters in mandarin vole pups deprived of their parents and littermates for 3h per day (ED, which is significantly different from 5 min isolation used to induce USVs) and another pup group developed under normal nest conditions (PC). Repeated measures analysis indicated that the number of USVs from ED pups was significantly lower than those from PC pups during the postnatal period (p<0.05). The pulse durations of ED pups were longer than those of PC pups at two (p<0.001) and five days of age (p<0.05), but shorter at 14 days of age (p<0.001). Compared with PC pups, the frequency range of the ED pups was wider at 18-45 kHZ, variable during the first week, smaller and narrower at 18-30 kHZ at eight and 11 days of age, and became stable similar to PC pups at 25 kHZ after 14 days of age. ED also reduced pup body weight significantly and resulted in earlier eye opening compared with PC pups (p<0.001). A positive relationship was also found between USV emissions and levels of parental care received by pups. It appears that pup USVs are an important age-dependent behavioral phenotype and an effective communicative method between parents and offspring. Prolonged parental and littermate deprivation (ED) may alter USVs emitted by pups and then ontogenetic development and parental care. Mandarin voles show USV properties similar to socially monogamous rodents and this add further support to the hypothesis that species with different social systems produce different patterns of ultrasonic vocalizations. USVs, ontogenetic development and parental care are closely associated.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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