Brown Institute for Brain Science

Ultrasonic Vocalizations

Rationale of Test

Mouse pups regularly engage in ultrasonic vocalizations, which may function to promote maternal retrieval of the pup, increased care of the pup, feeding, etc. When pups are separated from their mother, they often make distress calls, which fall within the ultrasonic range. Use of specialized systems to record ultrasonic vocalizations allow insights into the number and duration of such calls across a variety of contexts, most often in response to being separated from the dam.


Shoebox cage, sound attenuated chamber, warming pad, ultrasonic vocalization detector.


Mice are removed from the dam and into a shoebox cage within a sound attenuation chamber. The cage is place on a warming pad to insure maintenance of adequate body temperature of the pup. A microphone is placed above the pup and vocalizations are digitally recorded for later analysis.


Some argue that these vocalizations represent social communication, and deficits may indicate delays or lack of engagement in social communication. Such effects have been observed in a variety of mouse models of autistic spectrum disorders.

Relevant Controls

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