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Acoustic structure of vocalization and stapedius muscle activity during vocal development in chickens (Gallus gallus)


The link between stapedius muscle activity and acoustic structure of vocalization was analysed in cocks of age 20–30 to 90–100 days old. The results show that stapedius muscle activation depends on the acoustic structure of vocalization and changes during vocal development. This dependence was observed in spontaneous calls and in vocalizations elicited by stimulating the mesencephalic “calling area”. In 30-day-old cocks stapedius muscle EMG response is never associated with vocalizations with an acoustic energy content which is always distributed at frequencies higher than 2000 Hz. The coupling between vocalization and stapedius muscle activity begins later, when birds produce vocalizations with acoustic energy shifted towards lower frequencies. Overall, stapedius muscle activity is related to a bird's production of high amplitude low frequencies. These results support the hypothesis that the primary role of the stapedius muscle during normal vocal development is to dampen the amplitude of low frequency energy that reaches the cochlea during vocalization.

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Grassi, S., Bambagioni, D., Ottaviani, F. et al. Acoustic structure of vocalization and stapedius muscle activity during vocal development in chickens (Gallus gallus). J Comp Physiol A 172, 473–479 (1993).

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Key words

  • Stapedius muscle
  • Vocalization
  • Vocal development
  • Acoustic energy
  • Vocal frequencies