Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 697–708 | Cite as

Medial Preoptic Area Modulates Courtship Ultrasonic Vocalization in Adult Male Mice

  • Shu-Chen Gao
  • Yi-Chao WeiEmail author
  • Shao-Ran WangEmail author
  • Xiao-Hong XuEmail author
Original Article


Adult male mice emit highly complex ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in response to female conspecifics. Such USVs, thought to facilitate courtship behaviors, are routinely measured as a behavioral index in mouse models of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as autism. While the regulation of USVs by genetic factors has been extensively characterized, the neural mechanisms that control USV production remain largely unknown. Here, we report that optogenetic activation of the medial preoptic area (mPOA) elicited the production of USVs that were acoustically similar to courtship USVs in adult mice. Moreover, mPOA vesicular GABA transporter-positive (Vgat +) neurons were more effective at driving USV production than vesicular glutamate transporter 2-positive neurons. Furthermore, ablation of mPOA Vgat+ neurons resulted in altered spectral features and syllable usage of USVs in targeted males. Together, these results demonstrate that the mPOA plays a crucial role in modulating courtship USVs and this may serve as an entry point for future dissection of the neural circuitry underlying USV production.


mPOA Optogenetics Vgat Vglut2 Ultrasonic vocalization Courtship 



We thank members of the Xu’s lab for comments on this manuscript, and Dr. Hai-Lan Hu’s lab for help with USV equipment. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871066, 31471065), the National Basic Research Development Program (973 Program) of China (2015CB559201), the Thousand Young Talents Program of China, the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB32010200), and as part of the Chinese Academy of Science interdisciplinary innovation team.

Conflict of interest

The authors claim no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence TechnologyChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  2. 2.University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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