Changes to Neural Activation Patterns (c-fos Labeling) in Chinchilla Auditory Midbrain following Neonatal Exposure to an Enhanced Sound Environment

Neural Plast. 2018 Jul 5;2018:7160362. doi: 10.1155/2018/7160362. eCollection 2018.


Sensory brain regions show neuroplastic changes following deficits or experimental augmentation of peripheral input during a neonatal period. We have previously shown reorganization of cortical tonotopic maps after neonatal cochlear lesions or exposure to an enhanced acoustic environment. Such experiments probe the cortex and show reorganization, but it is unclear if such changes are intrinsically cortical or reflect projections from modified subcortical regions. Here, we ask whether an enhanced neonatal acoustic environment can induce midbrain (inferior colliculus (IC)) changes. Neonatal chinchillas were chronically exposed to a 70 dB SPL narrowband (2 ± 0.25 kHz) sound stimulus for 4 weeks. In line with previous studies, we hypothesized that such exposure would induce widening of the 2 kHz tonotopic map region in IC. To probe c-fos expression in IC (central nucleus), sound-exposed and nonexposed animals were stimulated with a 2 kHz stimulus for 90 minutes. In sound-exposed subjects, we find no change in the width of the 2 kHz tonotopic region; thus, our hypothesis is not supported. However, we observed a significant increase in the number of c-fos-labeled neurons over a broad region of best frequencies. These data suggest that neonatal sound exposure can modify midbrain regions and thus change the way neurons in IC respond to sound stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Chinchilla
  • Female
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos

Grant support