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Deep breaths are one of three breathing patterns in rodents characterized by an increased tidal volume. While humans incorporate deep breaths into vocal behavior, it was unknown whether nonhuman mammals use deep breaths for vocal production. We have utilized subglottal pressure recordings in awake, spontaneously behaving male Sprague Dawley rats in five contexts: sleep, rest, noxious stimulation, exposure to a female in estrus, and exposure to an unknown male. Deep breaths were produced at rates ranging between 17.5 and 90.3 deep breaths per hour. While overall breathing and vocal rates were higher in social and noxious contexts, the rate of deep breaths was only increased during the male's interaction with a female. Results inform also our understanding of vocal-respiratory integration in rats. The rate of deep breaths that were associated with a vocalization during the exhalation phase increased with vocal activity. The proportion of deep breaths that were associated with a vocalization (on average 22%) were similar to the proportion of sniffing or eupnea breaths that contain a vocalization. Therefore, vocal motor patterns appear to be entrained to the prevailing breathing rhythm, i.e. vocalization uses the available breathing pattern rather than recruiting a specific breathing pattern. Furthermore, the pattern of a deep breath was different when it was associated with a vocalization suggesting that motor planning occurs. Finally, deep breaths are a source for acoustic variation; for example, call duration and fundamental frequency modulation were both larger in 22 kHz calls produced following a deep inhalation.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of neurophysiology
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A strain of albino rat used widely for experimental purposes because of its calmness and ease of handling. It was developed by the Sprague-Dawley Animal Company.
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