Electromyographic patterns associated with nonnutritive sucking in 11–13−day-old rat pups

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Three experiments used an EMG technique to measure the frequency, duration, and intensity of nonnutritive sucking (NNS) in 56 11–13 day old Wistar pups. Ss were separated from their mothers for 2–6 or 20–24 hrs and then allowed to suckle an anesthetized dam for up to 3 hrs without receiving any milk. Jaw-muscle EMG and nipple detachments were recorded. EMG patterns representing 2 discrete modes of sucking were reliably discerned, as were changes in overall intensity of EMG. 20–24 hr separated Ss engaged in more frequent NNS bouts and bouts of longer duration than 2–6 hr separated Ss. Ss separated by 20–24 hrs also engaged in a mode of NNS not seen in 2–6 hr separated Ss. Overall EMG intensity was higher and frequency of nipple detachments was lower in Ss separated for 20–24 hrs. In both groups, but particularly the 20–24 hr Ss, frequency of some NNS patterns decreased as the length of the “dry” suckling increased. EMG intensity also decreased over time in both groups, and frequency of nipple detachments increased in 2–6 hr separated Ss. Data indicate that some aspects of NNS are highly labile and respond to variations of both deprivation from the mother and nutritive deprivation. (27 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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