Ultrasonic cries from infant rats stimulate prolactin release in lactating mothers

Joseph Terkel*, David A. Damassa, Charles H. Sawyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lactating female rats, separated from their litters for 6 hr, showed a dramatic elevation in plasma prolactin following a 15-min playback of ultrasonic vocalizations recorded from 7-day-old pups. Virgin females exhibited a smaller but still significant prolactin response to recorded pup calls. Control recordings of either background noise or adult ultrasonic vocalizations (22-26 kHz) had no effect on prolactin secretion even in lactating females. These results demonstrate that infant vocalizations can act as a stimulus for prolactin release and suggest that such communications may play a role in the maintenance of normal lactation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1979
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Ford Foundation
National Institutes of HealthNS01162a


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