Effects of amygdala lesions on male mouse ultrasonic vocalizations and copulatory behaviour.
ABSTRACT Mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) in several behavioural contexts. In particular, male mice articulate a long series of various sounds to females during courtship behaviour. To determine the relationships between this kind of vocal behaviour and emotion, we examined the lesion effects of the amygdala, an important neural module in emotional behaviour, on USVs. We recorded USVs from mice in the lesion and the control (sham operation) groups upon presentation of females and compared USVs before and after surgery. We found that the mean syllable duration of the USVs shortened and the appearance rate of longer syllables decreased after the surgery. The main reasons for these alterations could be explained by the altered courtship behaviour. As reported previously, the mounting behaviour of the lesion group after surgery was markedly less than that of the control group. Therefore, the appearance rate of those longer syllables would decrease logically because longer syllables primarily appear during mounting and intromission. However, we can hypothesize another scenario for the alterations to vocal behaviour: effects on the direct amygdala-periaqueductal grey (PAG) projection might be involved in the increase in the appearance rate of shorter syllables owing to lesion-induced loss of emotions, such as vigilance. Overall, the results suggested two possible mechanisms of the amygdala lesions on the alteration of the vocal behaviour.