Anatomy of Vocal Communication and Hearing in Rodents
Many animals produce sounds to communicate different types of information. More often than not, such sounds are vocal in nature and elicit a predictable behavioral response from the listener. While much of the literature on vocal communication derives from classic neuroethological studies on a number of vertebrates, rodents are fast becoming the group of choice to study vocalizations for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the advantage they offer for genetic manipulation. Central to the study of vocal communication is the need to understand how the nervous system mediates vocal production and how the auditory system accesses the information within a communication signal that leads to an appropriate behavioral response. A key goal is to determine the essential features of communication signals, what information they transmit, how they are categorized, and in combination with information derived from other sensory modalities, how they are interpreted and linked to a context-appropriate motor response. There is a substantial body of literature on the anatomy and physiology of the neural pathways that mediate vocalizations in rodents, but exciting new research lines are investigating the role of learning in vocal communication and how the rodent nervous system processes complex vocal communication signals.
KeywordsAuditory processing Auditory system Vocal control Vocal learning
The authors are grateful to Micheal Dent, Art Popper, and Peggy Walton for useful improvements to the chapter and to Srdjan Vlajkovic for help with the interpretation of inner ear histological material.
Compliance with Ethics Statement
M. Fabiana Kubke declares that she has no conflicts of interest.
J. Martin Wild declares that he has no conflicts of interest.
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