Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences.
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In 2005, Holy and Guo advanced the idea that male mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) with some features similar to courtship songs of songbirds. Since then, studies showed that male mice emit USV songs in different contexts (sexual and other) and possess a multisyllabic repertoire. Debate still exists for and against plasticity in their vocalizations. But the use of a multisyllabic repertoire can increase potential flexibility and information, in how elements are organized and recombined, namely syntax. In many bird species, modulating song syntax has ethological relevance for sexual behavior and mate preferences. In this study we exposed adult male mice to different social contexts and developed a new approach of analyzing their USVs based on songbird syntax analysis. We found that male mice modify their syntax, including specific sequences, length of sequence, repertoire composition, and spectral features, according to stimulus and social context. Males emit longer and simpler syllables and sequences when singing to females, but more complex syllables and sequences in response to fresh female urine. Playback experiments show that the females prefer the complex songs over the simpler ones. We propose the complex songs are to lure females in, whereas the directed simpler sequences are used for direct courtship. These results suggest that although mice have a much more limited ability of song modification, they could still be used as animal models for understanding some vocal communication features that songbirds are used for.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00076
Publication InfoChabout, J; Sarkar, A; Dunson, DB; & Jarvis, E (2015). Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences. Front Behav Neurosci, 9. pp. 76. 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00076. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9544.
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David B. Dunson
Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Statistical Science
My research focuses on developing new tools for probabilistic learning from complex data - methods development is directly motivated by challenging applications in ecology/biodiversity, neuroscience, environmental health, criminal justice/fairness, and more. We seek to develop new modeling frameworks, algorithms and corresponding code that can be used routinely by scientists and decision makers. We are also interested in new inference framework and in studying theoretical properties
Erich David Jarvis
Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Neurobiology
Dr. Jarvis' laboratory studies the neurobiology of vocal communication. Emphasis is placed on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations. They use an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. The main animal model used is songbirds, one of the few vertebrate groups that evolved the ability to learn vocalizations. The generality of the discoveries is tested in other vocal
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