Multisensory dysfunction accompanies crossmodal plasticity following adult hearing impairment.
ABSTRACT Until now, cortical crossmodal plasticity has largely been regarded as the effect of early and complete sensory loss. Recently, massive crossmodal cortical reorganization was demonstrated to result from profound hearing loss in adult ferrets (Allman et al., 2009a). Moderate adult hearing loss, on the other hand, induced not just crossmodal reorganization, but also merged new crossmodal inputs with residual auditory function to generate multisensory neurons. Because multisensory convergence can lead to dramatic levels of response integration when stimuli from more than one modality are present (and thereby potentially interfere with residual auditory processing), the present investigation sought to evaluate the multisensory properties of auditory cortical neurons in partially deafened adult ferrets. When compared with hearing controls, partially-deaf animals revealed elevated spontaneous levels and a dramatic increase (∼2 times) in the proportion of multisensory cortical neurons, but few of which showed multisensory integration. Moreover, a large proportion (68%) of neurons with somatosensory and/or visual inputs was vigorously active in core auditory cortex in the absence of auditory stimulation. Collectively, these results not only demonstrate multisensory dysfunction in core auditory cortical neurons from hearing impaired adults but also reveal a potential cortical substrate for maladaptive perceptual effects such as tinnitus.
Article: Early hearing-impairment results in crossmodal reorganization of ferret core auditory cortex.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Numerous investigations of cortical crossmodal plasticity, most often in congenital or early-deaf subjects, have indicated that secondary auditory cortical areas reorganize to exhibit visual responsiveness while the core auditory regions are largely spared. However, a recent study of adult-deafened ferrets demonstrated that core auditory cortex was reorganized by the somatosensory modality. Because adult animals have matured beyond their critical period of sensory development and plasticity, it was not known if adult-deafening and early-deafening would generate the same crossmodal results. The present study used young, ototoxically-lesioned ferrets (n = 3) that, after maturation (avg. = 173 days old), showed significant hearing deficits (avg. threshold = 72 dB SPL). Recordings from single-units (n = 132) in core auditory cortex showed that 72% were activated by somatosensory stimulation (compared to 1% in hearing controls). In addition, tracer injection into early hearing-impaired core auditory cortex labeled essentially the same auditory cortical and thalamic projection sources as seen for injections in the hearing controls, indicating that the functional reorganization was not the result of new or latent projections to the cortex. These data, along with similar observations from adult-deafened and adult hearing-impaired animals, support the recently proposed brainstem theory for crossmodal plasticity induced by hearing loss.Neural Plasticity 01/2012; 2012:601591. · 2.00 Impact Factor