3 Deaf Mice, 3 Deaf Mice, See How They Speak, See How They Speak


Mice Do Not Need To
Hear To Learn Courtship Vocalisation?!

When human babies learn to speak, they listen to the speech of the people around them, imitating their language and articulation. However, do mice require such audio experiences to learn vocalisation? Researchers from Washington State University found that mice do not require audio sounds to learn courtship vocalisation. (Mahrt et al. 2013)

An experiment was conducted on 2 groups of male mice. One group had normal ear hair cells, and the other group had their inner and outer ear hair cells completely destroyed by the time they were 16 days old. Without these cells, the mice were effectively deaf and showed no form of response to audio sounds. Both mice were placed in normal social environments till adulthood.

These male mice were then subjected to the presence of a female, where both groups exhibited ultrasonic courtship vocalisations. When the vocalisations from these 2 groups were studied, it was found that the vocalisation features from deaf and hearing mice were very similar to each other. This shows that audio experience is not needed for male mice to learn normal courtship vocalisations.

This shows that learning such vocalisations is not from audio learning, but from another source. One suggested source is its genes. It has already been shown that human communication disorders are affected by genes (Enard et al. 2009). Cross referencing to other animals, it is scientifically shown that genetic deletion of substance P (NK1) receptors decrease infant vocalisation in guinea-pigs (Rupniak et al. 2000).

Using mice as a model to study how genes affect vocalisation and its associative disorders will help us to better understand which aspects of vocal communication in humans are innate, and which are learned. Since it is probable that the genetic mechanisms related to vocalisation are similar in all mammals, this research will help us to better teach speech to the deaf (Mahrt et al. 2013).



“Of mice and (wo)men,” by Rick, M. ambiguityreport.blogspot.sg, 04 Jan 2012.

URL:http://ambiguityreport.blogspot.sg/2012/01/of-mice-and-women.html (accessed on 08 April 2013)

Mahrt, E. J., D. J. Perkel, L. Tong, E. W. Rubel & C. V. Portfors, 2013. Engineered Deafness Reveals That Mouse Courtship Vocalisations Do Not Require Auditory Experience. The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(13): 5573-5583. Retrieved on April 8, 2013 (http://www.jneurosci.org.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/content/33/13/5573.full.pdf+html).

Enard, W., S. Gehre, K. Hammerschmidt, S. M. Hölter, T. Blass, M. Somel, M. K. Brückner, C. Schreiweis, C. Winter, R. Sohr, L. Becker, V. Wiebe, B. Nickel, T. Giger, U. Müller, M. Groszer, T. Adler, A. Aguilar, I. Bolle, J. Calzada-Wack, C. Dalke, N. Ehrhardt, J. Favor, H. Fuchs, V. Gailus-Durner, W. Hans, G. Hölzlwimmer, A. Javaheri, S. Kalaydjiev, M. Kallnik, E. Kling, S. Kunder, I. Moßbrugger, B. Naton, I. Racz, B. Rathkolb, J. Rozman, A. Schrewe, D. H. Busch, J. Graw, B. Ivandic, M. Klingenspor, T. Klopstock, M. Ollert, L. Quintanilla-Martinez, H. Schulz, E. Wolf, W. Wurst, A. Zimmer, S. E. Fisher, R. Morgenstern, T. Arendt, M. Hrabé de Angelis, J. Fischer, J. Schwarz, S. Pääbo, 2009. A Humanized Version of Foxp2 Affects Cortico-Basal Ganglia Circuits in Mice. Cell, 137(5): 961-971. Retrieved on April 8, 2013 (http://www.lscp.net/persons/ramus/fr/GDP1/papers/enard09.pdf).

Rupniak, N. M. J., E. C. Carlson, T. Harrison, B. Oates, E. Seward, S. Owen, C. de Felipe, S. Hunt, A. Wheeldon, 2000. Pharmacological blockade or genetic deletion of substance P (NK1) receptors attenuates neonatal vocalisation in guinea-pigs and mice. Elsevier, 39(8): 1413-1421. Retrieved on April 8, 2013 (http://www.sciencedirect.com.libproxy1.nus.edu.sg/science/article/pii/S0028390800000526).