ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202105.0115.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Keywords: ultrasonic vocalization; social buffering; 50-kHz calls; 22-kHz calls; distress; emotional contagion; fear contagion; aversive state; communication
Online: 6 May 2021 (16:32:04 CEST)
Abstract: Ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) are one of the evolutionarily oldest forms of animal communication. In order to study the communication architecture in an aversive social situation, we used a behavioral model in which one animal, the observer, is witnessing as his cagemate, the demonstrator, is experiencing a series of mild electrical foot-shocks (aversive stimuli). We studied the effect of foot-shocks experience in the observer and the influence of a warning sound (emit-ted shortly before the shock is applied) on USVs communication. These experiments revealed that such a warning seems to increase the arousal level, which differentiates the responses depending on previous experience. It can be identified by the emission of characteristic, short 22-kHz calls, of a duration below 100 ms. Furthermore, by analyzing temporally overlapping USVs, we found that in ‘Warned’ pairs with a naive observer, 22-kHz were mixed with 50-kHz calls. This fact, combined with a high fraction of very high-pitched 50-kHz calls (over 75-kHz), suggests the presence of the phenomenon of social buffering. On the other hand, in ‘Warned’ pairs with an experienced observer, pure 22-kHz overlaps were mostly found, signifying possible fear contagion with dis-tress sharing. Hence the importance of differentiating 22-kHz calls to long and short.