New paper on cat purring out!


Domestic cat larynges can produce purring frequencies without neural input


Authors: Christian T. Herbst, Tamara Prigge, Maxime Garcia, Vit Hampala, Riccardo Hofer, Gerald E. Weissengruber, Jan G. Svec, W. Tecumseh Fitch



Most mammals produce vocal sounds according to the myoelastic-aerodynamic (MEAD) principle, through self-sustaining oscillation of laryngeal tissues. In contrast, cats have long been believed to produce their low-frequency purr vocalizations through a radically different mechanism involving active muscle contractions (AMC), where neurally driven electromyographic burst patterns (typically at 20–30 Hz) cause the intrinsic laryngeal muscles to actively modulate the respiratory airflow. Direct empirical evidence for this AMC mechanism is sparse. Here, the fundamental frequency (fo) ranges of eight domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) were investigated in an excised larynx setup, to test the prediction of the AMC hypothesis that vibration should be impossible without neuromuscular activity, and thus unattainable in excised larynx setups, which are based on MEAD principles.

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