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Neuron. 2016 Feb 17;89(4):867-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.041. Epub 2016 Jan 28.

Central Gain Restores Auditory Processing following Near-Complete Cochlear Denervation.

Author information

1
Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
2
Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA 02114, USA; Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
3
Department of Otolaryngology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200031, China.
4
Eaton-Peabody Laboratories, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA 02114, USA; Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA. Electronic address: polley@meei.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Sensory organ damage induces a host of cellular and physiological changes in the periphery and the brain. Here, we show that some aspects of auditory processing recover after profound cochlear denervation due to a progressive, compensatory plasticity at higher stages of the central auditory pathway. Lesioning >95% of cochlear nerve afferent synapses, while sparing hair cells, in adult mice virtually eliminated the auditory brainstem response and acoustic startle reflex, yet tone detection behavior was nearly normal. As sound-evoked responses from the auditory nerve grew progressively weaker following denervation, sound-evoked activity in the cortex-and, to a lesser extent, the midbrain-rebounded or surpassed control levels. Increased central gain supported the recovery of rudimentary sound features encoded by firing rate, but not features encoded by precise spike timing such as modulated noise or speech. These findings underscore the importance of central plasticity in the perceptual sequelae of cochlear hearing impairment.

PMID:
26833137
PMCID:
PMC4760846
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.041
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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