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Hear Res. 2006 Jun-Jul;216-217:216-23. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

Age-related structural and functional changes in the cochlear nucleus.

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  • 1Otolaryngology Department, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642-8629, USA. rdf@q.ent.rochester.edu

Abstract

Presbycusis - age-related hearing loss - is a key communication disorder and chronic medical condition of our aged population. The cochlear nucleus is the major site of projections from the auditory portion of the inner ear. Relative to other levels of the peripheral and central auditory systems, relatively few studies have been conducted examining age-related changes in the cochlear nucleus. The neurophysiological investigations suggest declines in glycine-mediated inhibition, reflected in increased firing rates in cochlear nucleus neurons from old animals relative to young adults. Biochemical investigations of glycine inhibition in the cochlear nucleus are consistent with the functional aging declines of this inhibitory neurotransmitter system that affect complex sound processing. Anatomical reductions in neurons of the cochlear nucleus and their output pathways can occur due to aging changes in the brain, as well as due to age-dependent plasticity of the cochlear nucleus in response to the age-related loss of inputs from the cochlea, particularly from the basal, high-frequency regions. Novel preventative and curative biomedical interventions in the future aimed at alleviating the hearing loss that comes with age, will likely emanate from increasing our knowledge and understanding of its neural and molecular bases. To the extent that this sensory deficit resides in the central auditory system, including the cochlear nucleus, future neural therapies will be able to improve hearing in the elderly.

PMID:
16597491
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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