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Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences.

Chabout J, Sarkar A, Dunson DB, Jarvis ED - Front Behav Neurosci (2015)

Bottom Line: Males emit longer and simpler syllables and sequences when singing to females, but more complex syllables and sequences in response to fresh female urine.Playback experiments show that the females prefer the complex songs over the simpler ones.We propose the complex songs are to lure females in, whereas the directed simpler sequences are used for direct courtship.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center Durham, NC, USA ; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Chevy Chase, MD, USA.

ABSTRACT
In 2005, Holy and Guo advanced the idea that male mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) with some features similar to courtship songs of songbirds. Since then, studies showed that male mice emit USV songs in different contexts (sexual and other) and possess a multisyllabic repertoire. Debate still exists for and against plasticity in their vocalizations. But the use of a multisyllabic repertoire can increase potential flexibility and information, in how elements are organized and recombined, namely syntax. In many bird species, modulating song syntax has ethological relevance for sexual behavior and mate preferences. In this study we exposed adult male mice to different social contexts and developed a new approach of analyzing their USVs based on songbird syntax analysis. We found that male mice modify their syntax, including specific sequences, length of sequence, repertoire composition, and spectral features, according to stimulus and social context. Males emit longer and simpler syllables and sequences when singing to females, but more complex syllables and sequences in response to fresh female urine. Playback experiments show that the females prefer the complex songs over the simpler ones. We propose the complex songs are to lure females in, whereas the directed simpler sequences are used for direct courtship. These results suggest that although mice have a much more limited ability of song modification, they could still be used as animal models for understanding some vocal communication features that songbirds are used for.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Conditional probabilities of occurrence for each context. Bar graphs represent the conditional probabilities of occurrence of a transition type in each condition averaged from n = 12 males. Data are presented for B6D2F1/J male (n = 12) mice as mean ± SEM.
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Figure 9: Conditional probabilities of occurrence for each context. Bar graphs represent the conditional probabilities of occurrence of a transition type in each condition averaged from n = 12 males. Data are presented for B6D2F1/J male (n = 12) mice as mean ± SEM.

Mentions: It is possible that in the general probability model the “m” syllable type in the UR condition is more interconnected with other syllable types than in other conditions not because of more syntax diversity, but because of the greater probability of the “m” syllable produced in the UR condition (Figure 3B). To help distinguish between these two possibilities, we estimated the conditional probabilities (Figure 9), focusing on transitions with fixed starting syllables, and developed an approach that tests for systematic differences in these probabilities (see Appendix A in Supplementary Material). Under a completely random transition mechanism, the conditional probabilities of choosing a syllable will be proportional to the overall preference for that syllable. However, consistent with the general probability findings, we found this to be not true [TX2(obs.) = 12,811.28, df = 720, p < 0.0001; Appendix A in Supplementary Material]; that is, the conditional probabilities Pr(x/d), Pr(x/s), Pr(x/u), Pr(x/m), and P(x/silence) for a given syllable “x” are not proportional in all contexts (Figure 9). Further we found that tests for differences in the distributions of transition types for different starting syllables across contexts were also highly significant (not random), including for the m syllable [TX2(obs.) = 5167.109, df = 684, p < 0.0001; Figure 9 and Appendix A in Supplementary Material]; pair-wise comparisons using Chi-squared tests for each pair of contexts showed strong statistical differences (Figure 9 and Appendix A in Supplementary Material: p < 0.0001). This supports our first hypothesis, being that in different contexts the mice's choice of the transition types for given starting syllables differs, and that the there is more syntax diversity in the urine condition.


Male mice song syntax depends on social contexts and influences female preferences.

Chabout J, Sarkar A, Dunson DB, Jarvis ED - Front Behav Neurosci (2015)

Conditional probabilities of occurrence for each context. Bar graphs represent the conditional probabilities of occurrence of a transition type in each condition averaged from n = 12 males. Data are presented for B6D2F1/J male (n = 12) mice as mean ± SEM.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4383150&req=5

Figure 9: Conditional probabilities of occurrence for each context. Bar graphs represent the conditional probabilities of occurrence of a transition type in each condition averaged from n = 12 males. Data are presented for B6D2F1/J male (n = 12) mice as mean ± SEM.
Mentions: It is possible that in the general probability model the “m” syllable type in the UR condition is more interconnected with other syllable types than in other conditions not because of more syntax diversity, but because of the greater probability of the “m” syllable produced in the UR condition (Figure 3B). To help distinguish between these two possibilities, we estimated the conditional probabilities (Figure 9), focusing on transitions with fixed starting syllables, and developed an approach that tests for systematic differences in these probabilities (see Appendix A in Supplementary Material). Under a completely random transition mechanism, the conditional probabilities of choosing a syllable will be proportional to the overall preference for that syllable. However, consistent with the general probability findings, we found this to be not true [TX2(obs.) = 12,811.28, df = 720, p < 0.0001; Appendix A in Supplementary Material]; that is, the conditional probabilities Pr(x/d), Pr(x/s), Pr(x/u), Pr(x/m), and P(x/silence) for a given syllable “x” are not proportional in all contexts (Figure 9). Further we found that tests for differences in the distributions of transition types for different starting syllables across contexts were also highly significant (not random), including for the m syllable [TX2(obs.) = 5167.109, df = 684, p < 0.0001; Figure 9 and Appendix A in Supplementary Material]; pair-wise comparisons using Chi-squared tests for each pair of contexts showed strong statistical differences (Figure 9 and Appendix A in Supplementary Material: p < 0.0001). This supports our first hypothesis, being that in different contexts the mice's choice of the transition types for given starting syllables differs, and that the there is more syntax diversity in the urine condition.

Bottom Line: Males emit longer and simpler syllables and sequences when singing to females, but more complex syllables and sequences in response to fresh female urine.Playback experiments show that the females prefer the complex songs over the simpler ones.We propose the complex songs are to lure females in, whereas the directed simpler sequences are used for direct courtship.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center Durham, NC, USA ; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Chevy Chase, MD, USA.

ABSTRACT
In 2005, Holy and Guo advanced the idea that male mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USV) with some features similar to courtship songs of songbirds. Since then, studies showed that male mice emit USV songs in different contexts (sexual and other) and possess a multisyllabic repertoire. Debate still exists for and against plasticity in their vocalizations. But the use of a multisyllabic repertoire can increase potential flexibility and information, in how elements are organized and recombined, namely syntax. In many bird species, modulating song syntax has ethological relevance for sexual behavior and mate preferences. In this study we exposed adult male mice to different social contexts and developed a new approach of analyzing their USVs based on songbird syntax analysis. We found that male mice modify their syntax, including specific sequences, length of sequence, repertoire composition, and spectral features, according to stimulus and social context. Males emit longer and simpler syllables and sequences when singing to females, but more complex syllables and sequences in response to fresh female urine. Playback experiments show that the females prefer the complex songs over the simpler ones. We propose the complex songs are to lure females in, whereas the directed simpler sequences are used for direct courtship. These results suggest that although mice have a much more limited ability of song modification, they could still be used as animal models for understanding some vocal communication features that songbirds are used for.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus