Inhibition of ultrasonic vocalizations by beta-adrenoceptor agonists.
The present study examined the relationship between the thermal environment and core body temperature in producing age-related patterns of ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). Implanted telemetry devices allowed on-line measurement of core body temperature during an extended period of isolation and after maternal contact, both as a function of age and thermal environment. At 12 or 17 days of age, rat pups were isolated for 30 min in either a cool or a warm environment, returned home for 5 min, and then re-isolated for 10 min. Number of USVs, body temperature, and behavioral activity were measured. During initial isolation in a cool environment, 12-day-olds displayed relatively stable patterns of ultrasounding and body temperature across time whereas older animals showed a time-dependent increase in USV calling and in core temperature. During re-isolation, 12-day-olds potentiated their USV calling at both ambient temperatures while 17-day-olds did not. The overall results suggest a strong dependence between USV calling, core body temperature, and ambient temperature during initial isolation at both ages-a finding in agreement with interpretations of USVs as an acoustic by-product of thermal challenge. In contrast, during re-isolation, USV calls, core body temperature, and ambient temperature functioned independently-a finding in agreement with interpretations of USVs as a representation of an emotional state.