Passive exposure to speech sounds induces long-term memory representations in the auditory cortex of adult rats

Sci Rep. 2016 Dec 20;6:38904. doi: 10.1038/srep38904.

Abstract

Experience-induced changes in the functioning of the auditory cortex are prominent in early life, especially during a critical period. Although auditory perceptual learning takes place automatically during this critical period, it is thought to require active training in later life. Previous studies demonstrated rapid changes in single-cell responses of anesthetized adult animals while exposed to sounds presented in a statistical learning paradigm. However, whether passive exposure to sounds can form long-term memory representations remains to be demonstrated. To investigate this issue, we first exposed adult rats to human speech sounds for 3 consecutive days, 12 h/d. Two groups of rats exposed to either spectrotemporal or tonal changes in speech sounds served as controls for each other. Then, electrophysiological brain responses from the auditory cortex were recorded to the same stimuli. In both the exposure and test phase statistical learning paradigm, was applied. The exposure effect was found for the spectrotemporal sounds, but not for the tonal sounds. Only the animals exposed to spectrotemporal sounds differentiated subtle changes in these stimuli as indexed by the mismatch negativity response. The results point to the occurrence of long-term memory traces for the speech sounds due to passive exposure in adult animals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sound*
  • Speech*