Autism-Open Access

Autism-Open Access
Open Access

ISSN: 2165-7890

+44 1223 790975


Modeling Social Communication Deficits in Mouse Models of Autism

Caterina Michetti, Laura Ricceri and Maria Luisa Scattoni

Male and female mice emit ultrasonic vocalizations during infancy when pups are separated from mother and littermates, as well as at adulthood in different experimental/social contexts. Mouse ultrasonic vocalizations had become now a popular assay for behavioral phenotyping throughout the life-span of models of autism since this response represents the best option to detect deficits within the social communication domain in the mouse species. In the present review, we describe the available methods to elicit and record mouse ultrasonic vocalizations in different social contexts and at different ages. Behavioral data collected on autism animal models in these paradigms/ contexts are also discussed. Moreover, we strongly emphasized the need of a standardization of the behavioral methods to better compare results from different laboratories.

Thanks to the progresses of computer technology, researchers can now perform detailed analyses of the vocal repertoire (classifying ultrasonic vocalizations into different categories) in autism mouse models. Recently, these analyses have revealed unusual vocal patterns in selected mouse lines. This innovative approach allows to detect also qualitative alterations in the social communication repertoire usually not identified with the standard analysis of emission rate. Future studies should be aimed at performing quantitative and qualitative analyses of vocalization patterns also in preclinical studies evaluating potential treatments in validated autism mouse models.