Are the subpopulations of PAG neurons responsible for mice vocalization context specific?

Mice are such wonderful creatures to work with. Those that I habituate every day   have become so nice to me. But there are also those who vocalize enough to make you think yes it’s gonna work and then stop vocalizing right away to remind you the unpredictability in life. Once again, mice have taught me that you cannot force behaviors to happen naturally. Things take time in science, and that is okay! I haven’t got much data yet, but it has been great learning and practicing various techniques, and of course, working with micey of all kinds of mouse-alities.

We have adjusted the project a little bit. Below is an updated abstract:

The midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG), a highly conserved structure, is crucial for vocalization. Lesions of PAG leads to mutism and PAG stimulation elicits vocalizations across species. Mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in various social contexts. Previously, we used a viral genetic tagging method CANE (Capturing Activated Neuronal Ensembles) to identify a subpopulation of PAG neurons important for female-directed courtship USVs produced by male mice. However, it is unknown whether the subpopulations of PAG neurons responsible for USVs are context specific. Here we tested the hypothesis that the same PAG-USV neurons are active when a mouse produces USVs in different social contexts. We first used immunohistochemistry to stain for the immediate early gene c-fos to examine whether PAG neurons are active when a male mouse produces USVs directed to a juvenile male social partner. We then used CANE to tag PAG neurons activated when a male mouse produced female-directed USVs, and c-fos staining to identify active neurons when the same male mouse produced either female-directed or juvenile male-directed USVs. Using confocal microscopy, we examined the overlap between neurons active during the same or different social contexts. Findings from this study can better our understanding of mammalian vocal control at neuronal level.

 

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