Ultrasounds during morphine withdrawal in rats

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1991;104(2):187-93. doi: 10.1007/BF02244177.


Ultrasounds (US) in rats may communicate affective states, as they occur only in highly significant situations such as maternal care, sex and aggression. Withdrawal from morphine is a manipulation which dramatically alters autonomic, somatic and motor functions; the present experiment demonstrated the production of US in this context and the influence of previous social experience in their production. Sixty male Long-Evans rats with distinct social experiences (social inexperience, defeat or copulation) underwent 72 h of continuous morphine exposure (4 x 75 mg morphine or placebo pellets) and subsequent withdrawal. The rats were observed for 10 min in equally treated pairs and while solitary at 6, 24 and 96 h after pellet removal. US were emitted by all groups and consisted primarily of two distributions of pure tone whistles with little frequency modulation: 1-2 s 21-25 kHz ("low") signals and the more prevalent 0.02-0.1 s 44-52 kHz ("high") signals. Morphine withdrawn rats lost weight, displayed wet dog shakes, were hypoactive and emitted threefold more US vocalizations with a fourfold greater duration than placebo controls. Defeat-experienced morphine withdrawn rats were more hypoactive than either socially inexperienced or copulatory experienced rats while increasing vocalization rates and total duration. This increased duration of ultrasounds included a shift in the distribution of individual US durations from less than 0.3 s to greater than 1.0 s. US are readily emitted at high rates in morphine withdrawn laboratory rats, which may implicate an opioid involvement in their generation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Social Behavior
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / drug effects*


  • Morphine