Age-related temporal processing speed deterioration in auditory cortex

Hear Res. 2001 Aug;158(1-2):84-94. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(01)00294-5.


A common problem among the elderly is a difficulty in discriminating speech sounds. One factor that may contribute to this is a deterioration in the ability to process dynamic aspects of speech such as formant transitions. For the aging auditory system, this deterioration in temporal processing speed may be manifest as a deficit in encoding time-varying sounds that contain rapidly changing frequencies such as formant transitions. The primary goal of this study was to explore the neural basis of the effects of aging on temporal processing speed. To this end, single units were recorded from the auditory cortex of young and aged rats in response to frequency-modulated (FM) sweeps that changed from trial to trial in both direction and speed. Results showed that the majority of cells recorded from young rats responded most vigorously to fast and medium speeds. By contrast, the majority of units recorded from aged animals responded best to slow speeds. For preferred direction of FM sweep, similar results were observed for both age groups, namely, approximately half of the units exhibited a direction-selective response. The results of the present study demonstrate an age-related decrease in the rate of change of frequency that can be processed by the auditory cortex.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Time Perception / physiology*