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Journal Article

Mice lacking the cerebral cortex develop normal song: Insights into the foundations of vocal learning.

MPS-Authors
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Whelan,  G.
Department of Genes and Behavior, MPI for biophysical chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Eichele,  G.
Department of Genes and Behavior, MPI for biophysical chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Hammerschmidt, K., Whelan, G., Eichele, G., & Fischer, J. (2015). Mice lacking the cerebral cortex develop normal song: Insights into the foundations of vocal learning. Scientific Reports, 5: 8808. doi:10.1038/srep08808.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0026-B05E-0
Abstract
Mouse models play an increasingly important role in the identification and functional assessment of speech-associated genes, with a focus on genes involved in vocal production, and possibly vocal learning. Moreover, mice reportedly show direct projections from the cortex to brainstem vocal motor neurons, implying a degree of volitional control over vocal output. Yet, deaf mice did not reveal differences in call structures compared to their littermates, suggesting that auditory input is not a prerequisite for the development of species-specific sounds. To elucidate the importance of cortical structures for the development of mouse ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in more detail, we studiedEmx1-CRE; Esco2(fl/fl) mice, which lack the hippocampus and large parts of the cortex. We conducted acoustic analyses of the USVs of 28 pups during short-term isolation and 23 adult males during courtship encounters. We found no significant differences in the vocalizations ofEmx1-CRE; Esco2(fl/fl) mice, and only minor differences in call type usage in adult mice, compared to control littermates. Our findings question the notion that cortical structures are necessary for the production of mouse USVs. Thus, mice might be less suitable to study the mechanisms supporting vocal learning than previously assumed, despite their value for studying the genetic foundations of neurodevelopment more generally.