Interactions between the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems during the production of ultrasonic vocalizations in rats
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Rats produce ultrasonic vocalizations that can be categorized into two types of ultrasonic calls based on their sonographic structure. One group contains 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalization (USVs), characterized by relatively constant (flat) frequency with peak frequency ranging from 19 to 28-kHz, and a call duration ranging between 100 – 3000 ms. These vocalization can be induced by cholinomimetic agents injected into the ascending mesolimbic cholinergic system that terminates in the anterior hypothalamic-preoptic area (AH-MPO) and lateral septum (LS). The other group of USVs contains 50-kHz USVs, characterized by high peak frequency, ranging from 39 to 90-kHz, short duration ranging from 10-90 ms, and varying frequency and complex sonographic morphology. These vocalizations can be induced by dopaminergic agents injected into the nucleus accumbens, the target area for the mesolimbic dopaminergic system. 22-kHz USVs are emitted in situations that are highly aversive, such as proximity of a predator or anticipation of a foot shock, while 50 kHz USVs are emitted in rewarding and appetitive situations, such as juvenile play behaviour or anticipation of rewarding electrical brain stimulation. The activities of these two mesolimbic systems were postulated to be antagonistic to each other. The current thesis is focused on the interaction of these systems indexed by emission of relevant USVs. It was hypothesized that emission of 22 kHz USVs will be antagonized by prior activation of the dopaminergic system while emission of 50 kHz will be antagonized by prior activation of the cholinergic system. It was found that injection of apomorphine into the shell of the nucleus accumbens significantly decreased the number of carbachol-induced 22 kHz USVs from both AH-MPO and LS. Injection of carbachol into the LS significantly decreased the number of apomorphine-induced 50 kHz USVs from the shell of the nucleus accumbens. The results of the study supported the main hypotheses that the mesolimbic dopaminergic and cholinergic systems function in antagonism to each other.