Playback of Ultrasonic Vocalizations to Juvenile and Adult Rats: Behavioral and Neuronal Effects

Rainer K.W. Schwarting, Theresa M. Kisko, Markus Wöhr

Research output: Other contributionResearch


Ultrasonic vocalizations in rats serve as important social signals, thereby receiving substantial scientific attention in behavioral and neurobiological research. To study their effects on call recipients, playback techniques were developed with the use of natural or artificial auditory signals that can be tested in terms of their effects on behavior and brain functions. The approach is also used to study the outcomes of psychopharmacological manipulations and their applicability in preclinical models of human disorders where social communicatory deficits are known to play a role. The present review summarizes the current scientific evidence for roles and effects of 22-kHz and 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations on juvenile and adult rats. These vocalizations represent two functionally opposite signal classes that serve aversive/defensive and affiliative/appetitive functions, respectively, and which are related to specific and partly distinct brain regions.

Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9780128096000
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Alarm call
  • Amygdala
  • Contact call
  • Dopamine
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Periaqueductal gray
  • Rat
  • Social communication
  • Ultrasonic vocalization


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