Development of Isolation-Induced Vocal Behavior in Normal-Hearing and Deafened Guinea Pig Infants

Arch-Tirado, E.; McCowan, B.; Saltijeral-Oaxaca, J.; de Coronado, I. Zarco; Licona-Bonilla, J.
April 2000
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2000, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p432
Academic Journal
Infants in many different animal species require auditory information from conspecifics to learn appropriate responses to important environmental and social cues. Isolation calls are emitted by infant guinea pigs in contexts of social separation from their mothers. The aim of the present study was to examine the ontogeny of the isolation calls in normal-hearing and deafened infant guinea pigs, from 2 to 40 days postpartum and to determine the role of hearing maternal vocalization in infant guinea pig vocal responses in contexts of social proximity and isolation. Female newborn pigmented guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) were housed with their birth mother and siblings. Water and dry food were available ad libitum. One day postpartum, the cochlea of infants in the experimental group was destroyed. The control group consisted of normal-hearing female siblings. Vocalizations from infants in the experimental and control groups were recorded for 6 minutes when with the mother before isolation, 6 minutes when alone, and then 6 minutes when with the mother after reunion. Recordings were made 5 days per week from 2 to 40 days after birth. The duration of calling was calculated for each 6-minute period of recording. Results demonstrated that deaf infants vocalize more than normal-hearing infants during social isolation from their mothers. Vocal activity of isolated deaf and normal-hearing infants decreased substantially over development, almost disappearing by the end of the study period. These results indicate that maternal vocal behavior modulates the vocal responses of guinea pigs early in infant development and supports other evidence that the guinea pig offers a viable model for investigating audition in deaf and normal-hearing human infants.


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