Data from: Nested circuits mediate the decision to vocalize


  • Vocalizations facilitate mating and social affiliation but may also inadvertently alert predators and rivals. Consequently, the decision to vocalize depends on brain circuits that can weigh and compare these potential benefits and risks. Male mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) during courtship to facilitate mating, and previously isolated female mice produce USVs during social encounters with novel females. Earlier we showed that a specialized set of neurons in the midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG-USV neurons) are an obligatory gate for USV production in both male and female mice, and that both PAG-USV neurons and USVs can be switched on by their inputs from the preoptic area (POA) of the hypothalamus and switched off by their inputs from neurons on the border between the central and medial amygdala (AmgC/M-PAG neurons) (Michael et al., 2020). Here we show that the USV-suppressing AmgC/M-PAG neurons are strongly activated by predator cues or during social contexts that suppress USV production in male and female mice. Further, we explored how vocal promoting and vocal suppressing drives are weighed in the brain to influence vocal production in male mice, where the drive and courtship function for USVs are better understood. We found that AmgC/M-PAG neurons receive monosynaptic inhibitory input from POA neurons that also project to the PAG, that these inhibitory inputs are active in USV-promoting social contexts, and that optogenetic activation of POA cell bodies that make divergent axonal projections to the amygdala and PAG is sufficient to elicit USV production in socially isolated male mice. Accordingly, AmgC/M-PAG neurons, along with POAPAG and PAG-USV neurons, form a nested hierarchical circuit in which environmental and social information converges to influence the decision to vocalize. ... [Read More]

Total Size
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Data Citation
  • Xiao, S., Michael, V., Mooney, R. (2023). Data from: Nested circuits mediate the decision to vocalize. Duke Research Data Repository.
  • 10.7924/r4x35002b
Publication Date
  • ark:/87924/r4x35002b
Related Materials
Funding Agency
  • National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences
  • National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders
Grant Number
  • R01DC013826
  • R01MH117778
  • Data from: Nested circuits mediate the decision to vocalize
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