Air-puff induced vocalizations: A novel approach to detecting negative affective state following concussion in rats

Jenny R. Browning*, Ashley C. Whiteman, Lai Yee Leung, Xi Chun May Lu, Deborah A. Shear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background Negative emotional states resulting from concussion are of increasing concern. In the current study, we developed a model to investigate negative affect following concussion in the projectile concussive impact (PCI) model. High frequency ultrasonic vocalizations (22 kHz USVs) are associated with negative affective stimuli in rats. Changes in negative affective state were examined following PCI using a mild air-puff stimulus to elicit 22 kHz USVs. New method Forty-eight hours post-injury, animals were placed into a clean acrylic box lined with bedding. A 5 min baseline recording was followed by 15 air puffs (55 psi) spaced 15 s apart aimed at the upper back and neck. Results Injured animals produced on average 153.5 ± 55.13 more vocalizations than shams, vocalizing on average 4 min longer than shams. Additionally, concussed animals vocalized to fewer air-puffs, exhibiting a 1.5 fold lower threshold for the expression of negative affect. Comparison with existing methods Studies currently used to test negative affective states following concussion in animals, such as the elevated plus maze and forced swim task have, as of yet, been unsuccessful in demonstrating injury effects in the PCI model. While the air-puff test has been applied in other fields, to our knowledge it has not been utilized to study traumatic brain injury. Conclusion The current study demonstrates that the air-puff vocalization test may be a valuable tool in assessing negative mood states following concussion in rat models and may be used to evaluate novel therapies following brain injury for the treatment of mood dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-49
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 22kHz vocalizations
  • Concussion
  • Negative affect
  • Projectile concussive impact model
  • Ultrasonic vocalizations


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