Rats are able to produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). Such USVs are an important component of the rat social behavior repertoire and serve distinct communicative functions as socio-affective signals. Depending on the emotional valence of the situation, juvenile and adult rats utter (1) aversive 22-kHz USVs conveying an appeasing and/or alarming function; or (2) appetitive 50-kHz USVs, which act as social contact calls, amongst others. A 50-kHz USV radial maze playback paradigm that allows assessment of the behavioral responses displayed by the recipients in a highly standardized manner has been developed. In this newly developed paradigm, a rat is exposed individually to playback of natural 50-kHz USVs and appropriate acoustic control stimuli using an acoustic presentation system for ultrasound. By this means, it has been consistently shown that 50-kHz USVs lead to social approach behavior in the recipient, supporting the notion that they serve an affiliative function as social contact calls.
Keywords: alarm call; contact call; playback; social behavior; social motivation; ultrasonic communication; ultrasonic vocalization.
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.