The importance of studying hearing loss and balance deficit in relation to plastic changes within the dorsal cochlear nucleus

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28 November 2011

Presenter(s): Dr Martine Hamann
Time: 16:00 – 17:00
Location: NHBRU, Meeting Room 1

Abstract:

A fundamental property of the brain is plasticity to allow the brain to learn and remember sensory experiences. Plastic changes can consist of changes in the intrinsic excitability of the neurones or of alterations in synaptic strength or connectivity.  The dorsal cochlear nucleus is a site of convergence of auditory and non-auditory inputs in the auditory brainstem. Here we show that prolonged exposure to loud single tones or to trans-cranial vibrations trigger hearing loss and balance deficit respectively.  Our studies show that exposure to those two stimuli differentially affect the excitability and synaptic plasticity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. Plastic changes within the dorsal cochlear nucleus can therefore be mechanistically uncoupled and be used to “fingerprint” previous experiences. Unravelling mechanisms behind those plastic changes might be particularly relevant and allow for manipulations that can delay or stop the progression of the deficits.