Comparison of the auditory sensitivity of neurons in the cochlear nucleus and inferior colliculus of young and aging C57BL/6J and CBA/J mice

Hear Res. 1991 May;53(1):78-94. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(91)90215-u.


Thresholds of neurons to sounds were compared as a function of central auditory structure [ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN), dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), and inferior colliculus (IC)] in young and middle-aged C57BL/6J mice (multiple- and single-unit recordings) and in young and old CBA/J mice (single-unit recordings). Middle-aged C57 mice show progressive loss of sensitivity to high frequencies and noise due to cochlear pathology; CBA mice show little loss of sensitivity through most of their lifespan. Multiple-unit threshold curves (MTCs) for tones indicated that neurons in the C57 VCN suffered a greater degree of age-related loss of sensitivity than neurons in the IC (from an earlier study). Furthermore, whereas the low frequency portions of MTCs in IC neurons in high frequency tonotopic regions typically become 'sensitized' in middle-aged C57 mice (i.e., lower thresholds than young mice), such was not the case for VCN neurons. In contrast to VCN neurons, MTCs of the population of DCN neurons studied were statistically indistinguishable from those of the IC. Measurements of single-unit response areas in C57 mice corroborated the MTCs. In CBA mice, little effect of age was found in comparing single-unit response areas of young and old mice. The findings indicate that sensorineural impairment in middle-aged C57 mice is accompanied by threshold changes that are more severe in the VCN than in the IC or DCN. Because the VCN and DCN are believed to play different roles in hearing, the functions they support should, likewise, be affected to different extents by age-related hearing loss.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold* / physiology
  • Cochlea / cytology
  • Cochlea / pathology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / pathology
  • Hearing Loss, Sensorineural / physiopathology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Rhombencephalon / physiology*
  • Rhombencephalon / physiopathology