Excessive noise exposure is known to produce an auditory threshold shift, which can be permanent or transient in nature. Recent studies showed that noise-induced temporary threshold shifts are associated with loss of synaptic connections to the inner hair cells and with cochlear nerve degeneration, which is reflected in a decreased amplitude of wave I of the auditory brainstem response (ABR). This suggests that, despite normal auditory thresholds, central auditory processing may be abnormal.
We recorded changes in central auditory processing following a sound-induced temporary threshold shift. Anesthetized guinea pigs were exposed for 1 h to a pure tone of 11 kHz (124 dB sound pressure level). Hearing thresholds, amplitudes of ABR waves I and IV, and spontaneous and tone-evoked firing rates in the inferior colliculus (IC) were assessed immediately, one week, two weeks, and four weeks post exposure.
Hearing thresholds were elevated immediately following overexposure, but recovered within one week. The amplitude of the ABR wave I was decreased in all sound-exposed animals for all test periods. In contrast, the ABR wave IV amplitude was only decreased immediately after overexposure and recovered within a week. The proportion of IC units that show inhibitory responses to pure tones decreased substantially up to two weeks after overexposure, especially when stimulated with high frequencies. The proportion of excitatory responses to low frequencies was increased. Spontaneous activity was unaffected by the overexposure.
Despite rapid normalization of auditory thresholds, our results suggest an increased central gain following sound exposure and an abnormal balance between excitatory and inhibitory responses in the midbrain up to two weeks after overexposure. These findings may be associated with hyperacusis after a sound-induced temporary threshold shift. (C) 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.
- INDUCED HEARING-LOSS
- INDUCED COCHLEAR NEUROPATHY
- ACUTE NOISE EXPOSURE
- ACOUSTIC TRAUMA