Mapping trait-like socio-affective phenotypes in rats through 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations
Fifty-kilohertz ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) in rats are believed to express inter-individual differences in trait-like positive affective phenotypes. Emission of 50-kHz USV can be induced by amphetamine (AMPH) to model mania-like positive affect, raising the possibility that predispositions for high 50-kHz USV production confer susceptibility to mania-like states. Such 50-kHz USV presumably express the sender’s motivation for social contact and elicit social approach behavior in receivers.
We recently showed that AMPH-induced 50-kHz USV are paralleled by mania-like patterns of enhanced social approach behavior towards playback of 50-kHz USV. Here, we assessed whether these AMPH effects are dependent on trait-like inter-individual differences in 50-kHz USV production.
To this aim, we subdivided juvenile rats into those emitting low (LC) and high (HC) rates of baseline 50-kHz USV and compared them across four AMPH dosage conditions: 0.0, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.5 mg/kg.
HC rats were considerably more susceptible to AMPH in inducing 50-kHz USV than LC rats, consistently across all examined doses. They further appeared to attribute more incentive salience to signals of rewarding social contact, as evidenced by enhanced social approach behavior towards 50-kHz USV playback, a response pattern also seen in LC rats after receiving AMPH treatment. HC but not LC rats emitted aversive 22-kHz USV following 50-kHz USV playback, indicating increased proneness to experience negative affective states if no actual social consequence followed the incentive signal.
Inter-individual differences in 50-kHz USV map onto a unique trait-like socio-affective phenotype associated with enhanced emotional reactivity towards social and non-social reward, possibly conferring risk to mania-like states.
KeywordsUltrasonic vocalization Social behavior Social approach Communication Individuality Amphetamine Dopamine Mania
This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to R.S. (DFG SCHW 559/14-1) and to M.W. (DFG WO 1732/4-1).
Compliance with ethical standards
All experimental procedures were in accordance with the current European guidelines and approved by the ethics committee of the local government (Regierungspräsidium Gießen; MR20/35 Nr.1/2015).
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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