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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X


SCHWARTING, R.K.W.  and  WOHR, M.. On the relationships between ultrasonic calling and anxiety-related behavior in rats. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2012, vol.45, n.4, pp.337-348.  Epub Mar 22, 2012 ISSN 1414-431X.

In the present review, the phenomenon of ultrasonic vocalization in rats will be outlined, including the three classes of vocalizations, namely 40-kHz calls of pups, and 22- and 50-kHz calls of juvenile and adult rats, their general relevance to behavioral neuroscience, and their special relevance to research on anxiety, fear, and defense mechanisms. Here, the emphasis will be placed on 40- and 22-kHz calls, since they are typical for various situations with aversive properties. Among other topics, we will discuss whether such behavioral signals can index a certain affective state, and how these signals can be used in social neuroscience, especially with respect to communication. Furthermore, we will address the phenomenon of inter-individual variability in ultrasonic calling and what we currently know about the mechanisms, which may determine such variability. Finally, we will address the current knowledge on the neural and pharmacological mechanisms underlying 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalization, which show a substantial overlap with mechanisms known from other research on fear and anxiety, such as those involving the periaqueductal gray or the amygdala.

Keywords : Ultrasonic vocalization; Anxiety; Fear; Communication; Social behavior.

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