DOI: 10.1126/science.adi8081 ISSN: 0036-8075

Brainstem control of vocalization and its coordination with respiration

Jaehong Park, Seonmi Choi, Jun Takatoh, Shengli Zhao, Andrew Harrahill, Bao-Xia Han, Fan Wang
  • Multidisciplinary

Phonation critically depends on precise controls of laryngeal muscles in coordination with ongoing respiration. However, the neural mechanisms governing these processes remain unclear. We identified excitatory vocalization-specific laryngeal premotor neurons located in the retroambiguus nucleus (RAm VOC ) in adult mice as being both necessary and sufficient for driving vocal cord closure and eliciting mouse ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). The duration of RAm VOC activation can determine the lengths of both USV syllables and concurrent expiration periods, with the impact of RAm VOC activation depending on respiration phases. RAm VOC neurons receive inhibition from the preBötzinger complex, and inspiration needs override RAm VOC -mediated vocal cord closure. Ablating inhibitory synapses in RAm VOC neurons compromised this inspiration gating of laryngeal adduction, resulting in discoordination of vocalization with respiration. Our study reveals the circuits for vocal production and vocal-respiratory coordination.

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