Distress vocalization delay in the neonate lamb as a neurobehavioral assessment tool.

Research paper by Christine L CL Morton, Geoffrey G Hinch, Alison A Small

Indexed on: 10 Apr '17Published on: 10 Apr '17Published in: Developmental Psychobiology


Acoustic features of infant distress vocalizations including latency and rate of emission are used as indices of neurological deficit and integrity in human and rodent neonates. This paper investigates the relationship between temporal characteristics of distress calls, elicited by an isolation stimulus, and indicators of neurobehavioral development over 12 hr postpartum in the neonate lamb. Delayed vocalization initiation was found to be associated with poor locomotor and orientation behavior reflecting the capacity of the lamb to reunite with and follow its dam, and a lowered rate of signal emission following commencement of vocalization. Animals demonstrating delayed vocalization initiation also appeared more likely to be of a birth weight predisposed to fetal distress, and to urinate when exposed to a novel environment. Based on these preliminary studies, we propose that compromised emission of vocal signals is indicative of neurobehavioral deficit in the neonate lamb.