Hyperactivity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus after intense sound exposure and its resemblance to tone-evoked activity: a physiological model for tinnitus.

Hearing research

PubMedID: 10675644

Kaltenbach JA, Afman CE. Hyperactivity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus after intense sound exposure and its resemblance to tone-evoked activity: a physiological model for tinnitus. Hear Res. 2000;140(1-2):165-72.
Intense tone exposure induces increased spontaneous activity (hyperactivity) in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) of hamsters. This increase may represent an important neural correlate of noise-induced tinnitus, a condition in which sound, typically of very high pitch, is perceived in the absence of a corresponding acoustic stimulus. Since high pitch sounds are thought to be represented in central auditory structures by the place of activation across the tonotopic array; it is therefore possible that the high pitch of noise-induced tinnitus occurs because intense sound exposure induces a tonotopic distribution of chronic hyperactivity in the DCN similar to that normally evoked only under conditions of high frequency stimulation. To investigate this possibility we compared this tone-induced hyperactivity with the activity evoked in normal animals by presentation of a tone. This comparison revealed that the activity in the DCN of animals which had been exposed to an intense 10 kHz tone 1 month previously showed a striking similarity to the activity in the DCN of normal animals during presentation of low to moderate level tonal stimuli of the same frequency. In both test conditions similar patterns were seen in the topographic distribution of the increased activity along the tonotopic axis. The magnitude of hyperactivity in exposed animals was similar to the evoked activity in the normal DCN responding to a stimulus at a level of 20 dB SL. These results suggest that the altered DCN following intense tone exposure behaves physiologically as though it is responding to a tone in the absence of a corresponding acoustic stimulus. The relevance of these findings to noise-induced tinnitus and their implications for understanding its underlying mechanisms are discussed.