Noise-induced hyperactivity in the inferior colliculus: its relationship with hyperactivity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus

J Neurophysiol. 2012 Aug;108(4):976-88. doi: 10.1152/jn.00833.2011. Epub 2012 May 2.


Intense noise exposure causes hyperactivity to develop in the mammalian dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) and inferior colliculus (IC). It has not yet been established whether the IC hyperactivity is driven by hyperactivity from extrinsic sources that include the DCN or instead is maintained independently of this input. We have investigated the extent to which IC hyperactivity is dependent on input from the contralateral DCN by comparing recordings of spontaneous activity in the IC of noise-exposed and control hamsters before and after ablation of the contralateral DCN. One group of animals was binaurally exposed to intense sound (10 kHz, 115 dB SPL, 4 h), whereas the control group was not. Both groups were studied electrophysiologically 2-3 wk later by first mapping spontaneous activity along the tonotopic axis of the IC to confirm induction of hyperactivity. Spontaneous activity was then recorded at a hyperactive IC locus over two 30-min periods, one with DCNs intact and the other after ablation of the contralateral DCN. In a subset of animals, activity was again mapped along the tonotopic axis after the time course of the activity was recorded before and after DCN ablation. Following recordings, the brains were fixed, and histological evaluations were performed to assess the extent of DCN ablation. Ablation of the DCN resulted in major reductions of IC hyperactivity. Levels of postablation activity in exposed animals were similar to the levels of activity in the IC of control animals, indicating an almost complete loss of hyperactivity in exposed animals. The results suggest that hyperactivity in the IC is dependent on support from extrinsic sources that include and may even begin with the DCN. This finding does not rule out longer term compensatory or homeostatic adjustments that might restore hyperactivity in the IC over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / adverse effects*
  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Cricetinae
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Mesocricetus
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / etiology
  • Psychomotor Agitation / physiopathology*