Responses of young and aged rat inferior colliculus neurons to sinusoidally amplitude modulated stimuli

Hear Res. 2001 Mar;153(1-2):174-80. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(00)00264-1.


The inferior colliculus (IC) is a processing center for monaural and binaural auditory signals. Many units in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (CIC) respond to amplitude and frequency modulated tones, features found in communication signals. The present study examined potential effects of age on responses to sinusoidally amplitude modulated (SAM) tones in CIC and external cortex of the inferior colliculus (ECIC) units in young and aged F344 rats. Extracellular recordings from 154 localized single units of aged (24 month) rats were compared to recordings from 135 IC units from young adult (3 month) animals. SAM tones were presented at 30 dB above threshold. Comparisons were made between CIC and ECIC regarding the percentage of units responding to SAM stimuli, the relationship between SAM responsiveness and temporal response patterns, maximum discharge rates and maximum modulation gains, shapes of rate transfer functions and synchronization modulation transfer functions (MTFs) in response to SAM tones. Sixty percent of units in young and aged rat IC were selectively responsive to SAM stimuli. Eighty-one percent of units classified as onset temporal response patterns were not tonically responsive to SAM stimuli. Median maximum discharge rate in response to SAM tones was 17.6/s in young F344 rats; median maximum modulation gain was 3.85 dB. These measurements did not change significantly with age. Thirty-seven percent of young rat units displayed bandpass MTFs and 53% had lowpass MTFs. There was a significant age-related shift in the distribution of MTF shapes in both the CIC and ECIC. Aged animals showed a lower percentage of bandpass functions and a higher percentage of lowpass functions. Age-related changes observed in SAM coding may reflect an altered balance between excitatory/inhibitory neurotransmitter efficacy in the aged rat IC, and/or possibly a change in the functional dynamic range of IC neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Humans
  • Inferior Colliculi / anatomy & histology
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Presbycusis / physiopathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid