Vocal development and auditory perception in CBA/CaJ mice
Radziwon, Kelly E.
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Mice are useful laboratory subjects because of their small size, their modest cost, and the fact that researchers have created many different strains to study a variety of disorders. In particular, researchers have found nearly 100 naturally occurring mouse mutations with hearing impairments. For these reasons, mice have become an important model for studies of human deafness. Although much is known about the genetic makeup and physiology of the laboratory mouse, far less is known about mouse auditory behavior. To fully understand the effects of genetic mutations on hearing, it is necessary to determine the hearing abilities of these mice. Two experiments here examined various aspects of mouse auditory perception using CBA/CaJ mice, a commonly used mouse strain. The frequency difference limens experiment tested the mouse's ability to discriminate one tone from another based solely on the frequency of the tone. The mice had similar thresholds as wild mice and gerbils but needed a larger change in frequency than humans and cats. The second psychoacoustic experiment sought to determine which cue, frequency or duration, was more salient when the mice had to identify various tones. In this identification task, the mice overwhelmingly classified the tones based on frequency instead of duration, suggesting that mice are using frequency when differentiating one mouse vocalization from another. The other two experiments were more naturalistic and involved both auditory perception and mouse vocal production. Interest in mouse vocalizations is growing because of the potential for mice to become a model of human speech disorders. These experiments traced mouse vocal development from infant to adult, and they tested the mouse's preference for various vocalizations. This was the first known study to analyze the vocalizations of individual mice across development. Results showed large variation in calling rates among the three cages of adult mice but results were highly consistent across all infant vocalizations. Although the preference experiment did not reveal significant differences between various mouse vocalizations, suggestions are given for future attempts to identify mouse preferences for auditory stimuli.