Localization of a vocal pattern generator in the pontine brainstem of the squirrel monkey

Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Feb;23(3):840-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04595.x.


Very little is known about the coordination of muscles involved in mammalian vocalization at the level of single neurons. In the present study, a telemetric single-unit recording technique was used to explore the ventrolateral pontine brainstem for vocalization-correlated activity in the squirrel monkey during vocal communication. We found a discrete area in the reticular formation just above the superior olivary complex showing vocalization-correlated activity. These neurons showed an increase in neuronal activity exclusively just before and during vocalization; none of them was active during mastication, swallowing or quiet respiration. Furthermore, the neuronal activity of these neurons reflected acoustic features, such as call duration or syllable structure of frequency-modulated vocalization, directly. Based on these findings and previously reported anatomical data, we propose that this area serves as a vocal pattern generator for frequency-modulated call types.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Stem / cytology*
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Male
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Saimiri
  • Telemetry / methods
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*