Influence of experience on the representation of the “mothering call” in frontoparietal and auditory cortex of pups of the rodent Octodon degus : FDG mapping
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Several types and subtypes of vocalizations which have a behavioral impact on degu pups were identified. Among these the complex “mothering call” which is exclusively uttered by females and first during extensive nursing periods in the nest is a candidate for filial learning. In 14C-2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) experiments two-weeks-old pups raised by normal mothers showed higher metabolic activity in somatosensory frontoparietal and frontal cortex upon play back of a mothering call than pups raised by muted mothers. It is suggested that pups learn to associate the mothering call with close body contact with their mother early in life. In addition, FDG representation of the call, of its components and of tone and noise stimuli were studied in degu auditory cortex. Five fields and some aspects of tonotopic organization were identified. The mothering call activated all fields, but with more spatial extent of labeling in normally raised pups. A rostral field was activated by play-back of the mothering call, noise, and two-tone sequences, but hardly by single-frequency tones and the narrow-band component of the mothering call.
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