Responses of young and aged Fischer 344 rat inferior colliculus neurons to binaural tonal stimuli

Hear Res. 1996 Oct;100(1-2):59-67. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(96)00113-x.


The inferior colliculus (IC) is one nucleus of the central auditory system which displays age-related changes. Inputs to the IC use primarily the amino acid neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA). Neurochemical and anatomical studies of the Fischer 344 (F344) rat IC have shown decreases in GABA and GABA receptor levels (see Caspary et al., 1995 for review). GABA neurotransmission affects binaural response properties in the IC (Faingold et al., 1991a, b; Vater et al., 1992a; Park and Pollak, 1993, 1994). We hypothesized that aged F344 rats would show alterations in binaural IC neuronal response properties due to an imbalance in the relative levels of inhibition and excitation. Extracellular recordings from 189 single units localized to the IC of anesthetized aged (24 month) F344 rats were compared to those obtained from 221 IC units in young adult (3 month) animals. Quantitative analyses were performed to determine the distribution of ipsilateral and binaural rate/intensity functions (RIFs) in the central nucleus of the IC and external cortex of the IC units. The majority of IC units in both young and aged F344 rats were not responsive to monaural ipsilateral characteristic frequency tone bursts. Although there was some shift in the distribution of binaural RIF shapes with age, it was not statistically significant. The shift included a reduction in the percentage of units classified as E/I (excited by contralateral stimulation/ipsilaterally inhibited during binaural stimulation), but an increase with age in the percentage of units classified as E/f (excited by contralateral stimulation/ further facilitated by the addition of low intensity ipsilateral stimulation, but inhibited by higher intensity ipsilateral stimulation). Despite the role of inhibitory neurotransmission in binaural processing in the IC, age-related neurochemical deficits in the IC do not appear to result in a major deficit in the processing of simple binaural stimuli in F344 rats.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aging / pathology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Inferior Colliculi / pathology
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid