Prepulse inhibition of the startle response in mice: relationship to hearing loss and auditory system plasticity

Behav Neurosci. 1994 Aug;108(4):703-13. doi: 10.1037//0735-7044.108.4.703.


Prepulse inhibition was used with C57BL/6J (C57) mice to assess behavioral-perceptual correlates of previously demonstrated physiological changes in the central auditory system associated with age-related hearing loss. Normal-hearing CBA/CaJ (CBA) mice and DBA/2J (DBA) mice, which exhibit extremely rapid hearing loss, were also tested. Tone prepulse stimuli (S1s) were presented 100 ms prior to a startle-evoking noise stimulus (S2), and a decrease in startle amplitude served as the measure of startle modification. As high-frequency hearing declined in C57 mice between 1 and 12 months of age, the efficacy of lower-frequency S1s was significantly enhanced. CBA mice exhibited no age-related changes in startle modification. DBA mice exhibited changes similar to those observed in C57s but at an accelerated rate. The enhanced behavioral saliency of low and middle frequencies in C57 and DBA mice appears to be a consequence of neural plasticity in the central auditory system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / physiopathology
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiopathology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, High-Frequency / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred DBA
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Presbycusis / physiopathology*
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Species Specificity