The effects of aging and sex on detection of ultrasonic vocalizations by adult CBA/CaJ mice (Mus musculus)

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Mice are frequently used as animal models for human hearing research, yet their auditory capabilities have not been fully explored. Previous studies have established auditory threshold sensitivities for pure tone stimuli in CBA/CaJ mice using ABR and behavioral methodologies. Little is known about how they perceive their own ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), and nothing is known about how aging influences this perception. The aim of the present study was to establish auditory threshold sensitivity for several USV types, as well as to track these thresholds across the mouse's lifespan. In order to determine how well mice detect these complex communication stimuli, several CBA/CaJ mice were trained and tested at various ages on a detection task using operant conditioning procedures. Results showed that mice were able to detect USVs into old age. Not surprisingly, thresholds differed for the different USV types. Male mice suffered greater hearing loss than females for all calls but not for 42 kHz tones. In conclusion, the results highlight the importance of studying complex signals across the lifespan.

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