Ultrasonic communication in rats: appetitive 50-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations as social contact calls

  • Markus WöhrEmail author
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. From sensory perception to behavior


Rats are highly social animals, with a rich social behavioral repertoire, including the emission of so-called ultrasonic vocalizations (USV). Typically, three main types of USV can be distinguished based on a number of acoustic features, such as call duration, peak frequency, and frequency modulation: (I) isolation-induced 40-kHz USV in pups, as well as (II) aversive 22-kHz USV and (III) appetitive 50-kHz USV in juvenile and adult rats. In this review, evidence from selective breeding, devocalization, and playback studies is summarized and discussed, and it is concluded that appetitive 50-kHz USV serve as situation-dependent socio-affective signals with important communicative functions, for instance as play signals and/or social contact calls.


Rough-and-tumble play Social play Social approach Ultrasonic vocalization Playback 



This work was supported by a grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to MW (DFG; WO 1732/4-1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Neuroscience, Experimental and Biological PsychologyPhilipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany

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