Ultrasonic vocalizations as indices of affective states in rats

Brian Knutson*, Jeffrey Burgdorf, Jaak Panksepp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

398 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adult rats spontaneously vocalize in ultrasonic frequencies. Although these ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) have been described as by-products of locomotor activity or social signals, accumulating evidence suggests that they may also index anticipatory affective states. Converging ethological, pharmacological, and brain stimulation research indicates that whereas long low-frequency (> 0.3-s, ∼22-kHz) USVs occur during anticipation of punishment or avoidance behavior, short, high-frequency (< 0.3-s, ∼50-kHz) USVs typically occur during anticipation of reward or approach behavior. Thus, long 22-kHz USVs may index a state of negative activation, whereas short, 50-kHz USVs may instead index a state of positive activation. This hypothesis has theoretical implications for understanding the brain circuitry underlying mammalian affective states and clinical applicability for modeling hedonic properties of different psychotropic compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-977
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Volume128
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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