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J Neurophysiol. 2013 Aug;110(4):999-1008. doi: 10.1152/jn.00182.2013. Epub 2013 May 29.

Hearing loss differentially affects thalamic drive to two cortical interneuron subtypes.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, USA.


Sensory deprivation, such as developmental hearing loss, leads to an adjustment of synaptic and membrane properties throughout the central nervous system. These changes are thought to compensate for diminished sound-evoked activity. This model predicts that compensatory changes should be synergistic with one another along each functional pathway. To test this idea, we examined the excitatory thalamic drive to two types of cortical inhibitory interneurons that display differential effects in response to developmental hearing loss. The inhibitory synapses made by fast-spiking (FS) cells are weakened by hearing loss, whereas those made by low threshold-spiking (LTS) cells remain strong but display greater short-term depression (Takesian et al. 2010). Whole-cell recordings were made from FS or LTS interneurons in a thalamocortical brain slice, and medial geniculate (MG)-evoked postsynaptic potentials were analyzed. Following hearing loss, MG-evoked net excitatory potentials were smaller than normal at FS cells but larger than normal at LTS cells. Furthermore, MG-evoked excitatory potentials displayed less short-term depression at FS cells and greater short-term depression at LTS cells. Thus deprivation-induced adjustments of excitatory synapses onto inhibitory interneurons are cell-type specific and parallel the changes made by the inhibitory afferents.


auditory cortex; development; fast-spiking interneuron; low threshold-spiking interneuron; sensorineural hearing loss

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