Age-related central gain with degraded neural synchrony in the auditory brainstem of mice and humans

Neurobiol Aging. 2022 Jul;115:50-59. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2022.03.014. Epub 2022 Mar 25.


Aging is associated with auditory nerve (AN) functional deficits and decreased inhibition in the central auditory system, amplifying central responses in a process referred to here as central gain. Although central gain increases response amplitudes, central gain may not restore disrupted response timing. In this translational study, we measured responses putatively generated by the AN and auditory midbrain in younger and older mice and humans. We hypothesized that older mice and humans exhibit increased central gain without an improvement in inter-trial synchrony in the midbrain. Our data demonstrated greater age-related deficits in AN response amplitudes than auditory midbrain response amplitudes, as shown by significant interactions between inferred neural generator and age group, indicating increased central gain in auditory midbrain. However, synchrony decreases with age in both the AN and midbrain responses. These results reveal age-related increases in central gain without concomitant improvements in synchrony, consistent with those predictions based on decreases in inhibition. Persistent decreases in synchrony may contribute to auditory processing deficits in older mice and humans.

Keywords: Aging; Auditory midbrain; Auditory nerve; Central gain; Neural synchrony.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aging / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Brain Stem
  • Cochlear Nerve* / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem* / physiology
  • Humans