The effects of aging in the medial geniculate nucleus: a comparison with the inferior colliculus and auditory cortex

Hear Res. 2004 May;191(1-2):21-33. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2004.01.010.


A common problem among the elderly is a difficulty in discriminating speech. One factor that may contribute to this is deterioration in the ability to process the dynamic components of speech such as formant transitions. The frequency-modulated (FM) sweep is a useful stimulus for investigating the neural basis of temporal processing speed since it has features in common with formant transitions. Previously, we showed that when cells in the auditory cortex of aged animals were presented with FM sweeps, they exhibited a decrease in temporal processing speed when compared to cells recorded from young animals. However, this was not the case for cells in the inferior colliculus (IC) where neural responses did not appear to be affected by aging. One question that remains is how the auditory thalamus is affected by aging: Is it similar to that of the auditory cortex or of the IC. To this end, single units were recorded from the ventral division of the medial geniculate nucleus (MGNv) of young and aged anaesthetized rats in response to FM sweeps. Results showed that there were no age-related differences in speed or direction selectivity of FM sweep responses in the MGNv. When compared with units recorded from the IC and AI, the responses of MGNv neurons were similar to those of the IC. This suggests that temporal processing speed is affected by aging in the cortex, but not in the auditory thalamus or midbrain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans