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Siveke, Ida; Leibold, Christian; Schiller, Evelyn; Grothe, Benedikt ORCID: 0000-0001-7317-0615 (2012): Adaptation of Binaural Processing in the Adult Brainstem Induced by Ambient Noise. In: The Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 32, No. 2: pp. 462-473


Interaural differences in stimulus intensity and timing are major cues for sound localization. In mammals, these cues are first processed in the lateral and medial superior olive by interaction of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs from ipsi- and contralateral cochlear nucleus neurons. To preserve sound localization acuity following changes in the acoustic environment, the processing of these binaural cues needs neuronal adaptation. Recent studies have shown that binaural sensitivity adapts to stimulation history within milliseconds, but the actual extent of binaural adaptation is unknown. In the current study, we investigated long-term effects on binaural sensitivity using extracellular in vivo recordings from single neurons in the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus that inherit their binaural properties directly from the lateral and medial superior olives. In contrast to most previous studies, we used a noninvasive approach to influence this processing. Adult gerbils were exposed for 2 weeks to moderate noise with no stable binaural cue. We found monaural response properties to be unaffected by this measure. However, neuronal sensitivity to binaural cues was reversibly altered for a few days. Computational models of sensitivity to interaural time and level differences suggest that upregulation of inhibition in the superior olivary complex can explain the electrophysiological data.