Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can rats "tell us" they want methamphetamine by "talking"?

A research group at the Medical University of South Carolina recently published a paper in the journal Behavioural Brain Research on ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) and methamphetamine self-administration.  Rats were trained to make a response to receive a methamphetamine infusion, but then responses did not yield drug delivery.  The authors observed differences in vocalizations from when methamphetamine was available and when it was not available.  Moreover, different vocalizations were observed when cues associated with methamphetamine were presented, than when other cues were presented.  These data suggest drug addiction researchers could use USVs to study the subjective states (e.g., "craving") associated with methamphetamine reinforcement.

Reference - S.V. Mahler et al. (2012) A rodent “Self-Report” measure of methamphetamine craving? Rat ultrasonic vocalizations during methamphetamine self-administration, extinction, and reinstatement . Behavioural Brain Research  , in press.


  1. This is a very interesting observation. It reminds me of classical conditions developed by Ivan Pavlov. I would have to say that it is possible to hear changes in the tones of the rats because like other animals, they have been trained to associate methamphetamine infusion and tones.

  2. I believe that it is possible to train a rat , or just about any animal. The rats started craving the methamphetamine and when they could not get it their behavior changed. I like a child when they can't have their way they will pout and get upset. I don't know if I would call it talking,but they rats communicate with each other.

  3. The rat subjects were trained the article stated but did not response for the methamphetamine as the researches had suspect. But they have associated vocalizations in correlations to the methamphetamine infusion when they wanted. As Kimberly Hill responded I think that certain tones may have indicated the wanted the infusion because animals are able to make noises rather in distress or to attract attention. However, as Tammy stated I do not know if I would classify the conversation as "talking". A form of communication, yes because even non-verbal individuals can communicate by humming or making a noise when needing or wanting something. Very interesting article for readers.