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Physiol Behav. 2009 Jun 22;97(3-4):369-73. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2009.03.004. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

The effect of postnatal exposure to noise on sound level processing by auditory cortex neurons of rats in adulthood.

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School of Life Science, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, and Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance, East China Normal University, 3663 North Zhongshan Road, Shanghai 200062, China.


Most people are exposed daily to some level and duration of environmental noise. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of postnatal exposure to a moderate level of noise on sound level processing by neurons in the primary auditory cortex of rats in adulthood. The cortical neuron response to sound stimuli was investigated in three groups of rats. Two groups, either in the critical period of postnatal hearing development or in adulthood, were exposed to 80 dB SPL interrupted white noise for 8 h/day for 2 weeks. The control group consisted of adult rats that were not exposed to the white noise. Seven weeks later, the minimum threshold, the first spike latency, the dynamic range and the slope of the rate-level functions of cortical neuron response to a sound stimulus were determined. The cortical neurons in young rats exposed to the noise had a significantly higher minimum threshold, a longer first spike latency, a shorter dynamic range and a bigger slope in rate-level functions compared with the control group. The group in which adult rats were exposed to the white noise, however, did not have a significant change of sound level processing by the auditory cortical neurons. These results demonstrated that young rats were more susceptible to noise exposure affecting the cortical neuron processing of sound levels.

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