Anticipation of rewarding electrical brain stimulation evokes ultrasonic vocalization in rats

Jeffrey Burgdorf, Brian Knutson*, Jaak Panksepp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations


Adult rats emit increased rates of 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) before receiving social and pharmacological rewards. This study sought to determine whether anticipation of rewarding electrical stimulation of the brain (ESB) would also elicit these vocalizations. In Experiments 1 and 2, rats showed increased 50-kHz USVs before receiving experimenter-delivered ventral tegmental area (VTA) and lateral hypothalamic (LH) ESB on a fixed time 20-s schedule. In Experiments 3 and 4, rats increased their rate of 50- kHz USVs in response to cues that predicted the opportunity to self-stimulate the VTA or LH. Interestingly, unexpected termination of either type of ESB evoked 20-kHz, rather than 50-kHz, USVs. In Experiment 5, a cue that predicted daily 1-hr feeding sessions increased 50-kHz USVs, whereas a cue that predicted footshock decreased 50-kHz USVs. These effects could not be explained simply by changes in locomotor activity or general arousal. Together, these findings support the hypothesis that short 50-kHz USVs may selectively index a state of reward anticipation in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-327
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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