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Behav Brain Res. 2001 Nov 1;125(1-2):49-56.

Ultrasonic vocalisation emitted by infant rodents: a tool for assessment of neurobehavioural development.

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UPR 9074 CNRS, Génétique Neurogénétique Comportement, 3b Rue de la Ferollerie, 45071 Orléans, France.


Ultrasonic vocalisations (USVs) emitted by altricial rodent pups are whistle-like sounds with frequencies between 30 and 90 kHz. These signals play an important communicative role in mother-offspring interaction since they elicit in the dam a prompt response concerning caregiving behaviours. Both physical and social parameters modulate the USV emission in the infant rodent. Recently, a more detailed analysis of the ultrasonic vocalisation pattern, considering the spectrographic structure of sounds has allowed a deeper investigation of this behaviour. In order to investigate neurobehavioural development, the analysis of USVs presents several advantages, mainly: (i) USVs are one of the few responses produced by very young mice that can be quantitatively analysed and elicited by quantifiable stimuli; (ii) USV production follows a clear ontogenetic profile from birth to PND 14-15, thus allowing longitudinal neurobehavioural analysis during very early postnatal ontogeny. The study of this ethologically-ecologically relevant behaviour represent a valid model to evaluate possible alterations in the neurobehavioural development of perinatally treated or genetically modified infant rodents. Furthermore, the role played by several receptor agonists and antagonists in modulating USV rate makes this measure particularly important when investigating the effects of anxiogenic and anxiolytic compounds, and emotional behaviour in general.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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