Perception of Ultrasonic Vocalizations by Socially Housed and Isolated Mice

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2019
Authors:Screven, Dent
Keywords:hearing, psychoacoustics, USVs

It is currently unclear whether mice use their ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) for communication purposes. It is also unknown if mice require previous experience with USVs to understand conspecifics. There is some evidence that experience changes the perception of juvenile USVs; however, it is unclear whether similar plasticity also occurs for adult USVs. To examine whether social exposure or deprivation throughout development leads to changes in USV perception, eleven female CBA/CaJ mice were trained to discriminate between 18 USVs of three different categories using operant conditioning procedures. Mice were group housed with four females or housed individually from weaning for the duration of the experiment. Socially housed and isolated mice differed in initial training times on pure tones, suggesting isolated mice had a more difficult time learning the task. Both groups completed USV discrimination conditions quicker at the end of the testing phases relative to the beginning. The overall discrimination of USVs did not differ between the two housing conditions, but a multidimensional scaling analysis revealed that socially experienced and isolated mice perceive some USVs differently, illustrated by differences in locations of USVs on the scaling maps from the two groups. Finally, a negative correlation was found between spectrotemporal similarity and percent discrimination, and analyses support the idea that mice may show categorical perception of at least two of the three USV categories. Thus, experience with USVs changes USV perception.

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith