, Volume 235, Issue 8, pp 2435–2445 | Cite as

Effects of anxiogenic drugs on the emission of 22- and 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in adult rats

  • Maria Willadsen
  • Laura M. Best
  • Markus Wöhr
  • Paul B. S. ClarkeEmail author
Original Investigation



Adult rat 22-kHz vocalizations are often associated with alarm or distress, whereas a subset of 50-kHz calls is preferentially emitted in response to amphetamine and other rewarding stimuli. Whether any 50-kHz calls reflect anxiety is unknown.


To determine the effects of anxiogenic drugs on 50-kHz call rate and call subtype profile, in comparison with d-amphetamine.


Adult male rats received systemic amphetamine (1 mg/kg) three times several days before testing. Ultrasonic vocalizations were then recorded after acute intraperitoneal injection of amphetamine or one of five anxiogenic drugs: yohimbine (2.5 mg/kg), N-methyl-β-carboline-3-carboxamide (FG 7142, 5 mg/kg), pentylenetetrazol (PTZ, 20 mg/kg), m-chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP, 1 mg/kg), caffeine (25 mg/kg), or vehicle.


The duration of immobility was increased by FG 7142, PTZ, and mCPP; this measure was unchanged by yohimbine and reduced by the locomotor stimulant drugs amphetamine and caffeine. Conversely, the 50-kHz call rate was reduced by FG 7142, PTZ and mCPP, and increased by caffeine and amphetamine. Overall, the most common 50-kHz call subtypes were flat, trill, step-up, and complex. Consistent with previous reports, amphetamine increased the relative prevalence of trill calls while reducing the relative prevalence of flat calls. Yohimbine and caffeine reduced flat call prevalence, whereas mCPP reduced trill call prevalence. No other shifts in the call profile were observed, and no anxiogenic drug induced 22-kHz calls.


Anxiogenic drugs, as a class, did not uniformly alter the 50-kHz call rate or subtype profile. Amphetamine-induced effects on 50-kHz call rate and profile do not reflect anxiety.


Ultrasonic vocalization Anxiety FG 7142 m-Chlorophenylpiperazine (mCPP) Anxiogenic Amphetamine 



Supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) discovery grant (155055, to P.B.S.C). P.B.S.C. is a member of the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology at Concordia University, Montreal.

Funding information

The authors have no financial relationship with the organizations that sponsored this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

All experiments comply with the current laws of Canada.

Supplementary material

213_2018_4942_MOESM1_ESM.docx (83 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 82 kb)
213_2018_4942_MOESM2_ESM.docx (32 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Neuroscience, Experimental and Biological PsychologyPhilipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and TherapeuticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior (CMBB)Philipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany

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