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Peptide Control of Vocalization

Neuropeptides and steroid hormones alter a variety of vertebrate behaviors, including parental, aggressive, and reproductive behaviors. The mechanisms of action of these compounds and the site in the brain where they act on specific behaviors are poorly understood. We currently focus on the neurohypophysial peptides which modulate the display of vocalizations in many vertebrates. Vocal behavior is often a critical component in social interactions. Amphibians are excellent model organisms in which to investigate this behavior. Frog vocal behavior is produced by a typical larynx, frogs possess peptides almost identical in structure to mammalian peptides, and the behavior of frogs is profoundly influenced by neurohypophysial peptides. Projects-in-progress investigate where peptide and peptide receptor genes are expressed in the brain, effects of intracranial injections of peptide into specific brain areas, and the electrophysiological effects of peptides on motor output and central pattern generation.