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1.  A Modeling Study of the Responses of the Lateral Superior Olive to Ipsilateral Sinusoidally Amplitude-Modulated Tones 
The lateral superior olive (LSO) is a brainstem nucleus that is classically understood to encode binaural information in high-frequency sounds. Previous studies have shown that LSO cells are sensitive to envelope interaural time difference in sinusoidally amplitude-modulated (SAM) tones (Joris and Yin, J Neurophysiol 73:1043–1062, 1995; Joris, J Neurophysiol 76:2137–2156, 1996) and that a subpopulation of LSO neurons exhibit low-threshold potassium currents mediated by Kv1 channels (Barnes-Davies et al., Eur J Neurosci 19:325–333, 2004). It has also been shown that in many LSO cells the average response rate to ipsilateral SAM tones decreases with modulation frequency above a few hundred Hertz (Joris and Yin, J Neurophysiol 79:253–269, 1998). This low-pass feature is not directly inherited from the inputs to the LSO since the response rate of these input neurons changes little with increasing modulation frequency. In the current study, an LSO cell model is developed to investigate mechanisms consistent with the responses described above, notably the emergent rate decrease with increasing frequency. The mechanisms explored included the effects of after-hyperpolarization (AHP) channels, the dynamics of low-threshold potassium channels (KLT), and the effects of background inhibition. In the model, AHP channels alone were not sufficient to induce the observed rate decrease at high modulation frequencies. The model also suggests that the background inhibition alone, possibly from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, can account for the small rate decrease seen in some LSO neurons, but could not explain the large rate decrease seen in other LSO neurons at high modulation frequencies. In contrast, both the small and large rate decreases were replicated when KLT channels were included in the LSO neuron model. These results support the conclusion that KLT channels may play a major role in the large rate decreases seen in some units and that background inhibition may be a contributing factor, a factor that could be adequate for small decreases.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0300-5
PMCID: PMC3298618  PMID: 22160752
LSO; low-threshold potassium channel; auditory brainstem; cochlear nucleus bushy cells; envelope processing
2.  A Modeling Study of the Responses of the Lateral Superior Olive to Ipsilateral Sinusoidally Amplitude-Modulated Tones 
The lateral superior olive (LSO) is a brainstem nucleus that is classically understood to encode binaural information in high-frequency sounds. Previous studies have shown that LSO cells are sensitive to envelope interaural time difference in sinusoidally amplitude-modulated (SAM) tones (Joris and Yin, J Neurophysiol 73:1043–1062, 1995; Joris, J Neurophysiol 76:2137–2156, 1996) and that a subpopulation of LSO neurons exhibit low-threshold potassium currents mediated by Kv1 channels (Barnes-Davies et al., Eur J Neurosci 19:325–333, 2004). It has also been shown that in many LSO cells the average response rate to ipsilateral SAM tones decreases with modulation frequency above a few hundred Hertz (Joris and Yin, J Neurophysiol 79:253–269, 1998). This low-pass feature is not directly inherited from the inputs to the LSO since the response rate of these input neurons changes little with increasing modulation frequency. In the current study, an LSO cell model is developed to investigate mechanisms consistent with the responses described above, notably the emergent rate decrease with increasing frequency. The mechanisms explored included the effects of after-hyperpolarization (AHP) channels, the dynamics of low-threshold potassium channels (KLT), and the effects of background inhibition. In the model, AHP channels alone were not sufficient to induce the observed rate decrease at high modulation frequencies. The model also suggests that the background inhibition alone, possibly from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, can account for the small rate decrease seen in some LSO neurons, but could not explain the large rate decrease seen in other LSO neurons at high modulation frequencies. In contrast, both the small and large rate decreases were replicated when KLT channels were included in the LSO neuron model. These results support the conclusion that KLT channels may play a major role in the large rate decreases seen in some units and that background inhibition may be a contributing factor, a factor that could be adequate for small decreases.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0300-5
PMCID: PMC3298618  PMID: 22160752
LSO; low-threshold potassium channel; auditory brainstem; cochlear nucleus bushy cells; envelope processing
3.  Across-Channel Timing Differences as a Potential Code for the Frequency of Pure Tones 
When a pure tone or low-numbered harmonic is presented to a listener, the resulting travelling wave in the cochlea slows down at the portion of the basilar membrane (BM) tuned to the input frequency due to the filtering properties of the BM. This slowing is reflected in the phase of the response of neurons across the auditory nerve (AN) array. It has been suggested that the auditory system exploits these across-channel timing differences to encode the pitch of both pure tones and resolved harmonics in complex tones. Here, we report a quantitative analysis of previously published data on the response of guinea pig AN fibres, of a range of characteristic frequencies, to pure tones of different frequencies and levels. We conclude that although the use of across-channel timing cues provides an a priori attractive and plausible means of encoding pitch, many of the most obvious metrics for using that cue produce pitch estimates that are strongly influenced by the overall level and therefore are unlikely to provide a straightforward means for encoding the pitch of pure tones.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0305-0
PMCID: PMC3298616  PMID: 22160791
auditory nerve; pitch; frequency; pure tone; phase transitions
4.  Across-Channel Timing Differences as a Potential Code for the Frequency of Pure Tones 
When a pure tone or low-numbered harmonic is presented to a listener, the resulting travelling wave in the cochlea slows down at the portion of the basilar membrane (BM) tuned to the input frequency due to the filtering properties of the BM. This slowing is reflected in the phase of the response of neurons across the auditory nerve (AN) array. It has been suggested that the auditory system exploits these across-channel timing differences to encode the pitch of both pure tones and resolved harmonics in complex tones. Here, we report a quantitative analysis of previously published data on the response of guinea pig AN fibres, of a range of characteristic frequencies, to pure tones of different frequencies and levels. We conclude that although the use of across-channel timing cues provides an a priori attractive and plausible means of encoding pitch, many of the most obvious metrics for using that cue produce pitch estimates that are strongly influenced by the overall level and therefore are unlikely to provide a straightforward means for encoding the pitch of pure tones.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0305-0
PMCID: PMC3298616  PMID: 22160791
auditory nerve; pitch; frequency; pure tone; phase transitions
5.  Genetic Background of Prop1df Mutants Provides Remarkable Protection Against Hypothyroidism-Induced Hearing Impairment 
Hypothyroidism is a cause of genetic and environmentally induced deafness. The sensitivity of cochlear development and function to thyroid hormone (TH) mandates understanding TH action in this sensory organ. Prop1df and Pou1f1dw mutant mice carry mutations in different pituitary transcription factors, each resulting in pituitary thyrotropin deficiency. Despite the same lack of detectable serum TH, these mutants have very different hearing abilities: Prop1df mutants are mildly affected, while Pou1f1dw mutants are completely deaf. Genetic studies show that this difference is attributable to the genetic backgrounds. Using embryo transfer, we discovered that factors intrinsic to the fetus are the major contributor to this difference, not maternal effects. We analyzed Prop1df mutants to identify processes in cochlear development that are disrupted in other hypothyroid animal models but protected in Prop1df mutants by the genetic background. The development of outer hair cell (OHC) function is delayed, but Prestin and KCNQ4 immunostaining appear normal in mature Prop1df mutants. The endocochlear potential and KCNJ10 immunostaining in the stria vascularis are indistinguishable from wild type, and no differences in neurofilament or synaptophysin staining are evident in Prop1df mutants. The synaptic vesicle protein otoferlin normally shifts expression from OHC to IHC as temporary afferent fibers beneath the OHC regress postnatally. Prop1df mutants exhibit persistent, abnormal expression of otoferlin in apical OHC, suggesting delayed maturation of synaptic function. Thus, the genetic background of Prop1df mutants is remarkably protective for most functions affected in other hypothyroid mice. The Prop1df mutant is an attractive model for identifying the genes that protect against deafness.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0302-3
PMCID: PMC3298611  PMID: 22143287
thyroid hormone; deafness; dwarfism; otoferlin
6.  Genetic Background of Prop1df Mutants Provides Remarkable Protection Against Hypothyroidism-Induced Hearing Impairment 
Hypothyroidism is a cause of genetic and environmentally induced deafness. The sensitivity of cochlear development and function to thyroid hormone (TH) mandates understanding TH action in this sensory organ. Prop1df and Pou1f1dw mutant mice carry mutations in different pituitary transcription factors, each resulting in pituitary thyrotropin deficiency. Despite the same lack of detectable serum TH, these mutants have very different hearing abilities: Prop1df mutants are mildly affected, while Pou1f1dw mutants are completely deaf. Genetic studies show that this difference is attributable to the genetic backgrounds. Using embryo transfer, we discovered that factors intrinsic to the fetus are the major contributor to this difference, not maternal effects. We analyzed Prop1df mutants to identify processes in cochlear development that are disrupted in other hypothyroid animal models but protected in Prop1df mutants by the genetic background. The development of outer hair cell (OHC) function is delayed, but Prestin and KCNQ4 immunostaining appear normal in mature Prop1df mutants. The endocochlear potential and KCNJ10 immunostaining in the stria vascularis are indistinguishable from wild type, and no differences in neurofilament or synaptophysin staining are evident in Prop1df mutants. The synaptic vesicle protein otoferlin normally shifts expression from OHC to IHC as temporary afferent fibers beneath the OHC regress postnatally. Prop1df mutants exhibit persistent, abnormal expression of otoferlin in apical OHC, suggesting delayed maturation of synaptic function. Thus, the genetic background of Prop1df mutants is remarkably protective for most functions affected in other hypothyroid mice. The Prop1df mutant is an attractive model for identifying the genes that protect against deafness.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0302-3
PMCID: PMC3298611  PMID: 22143287
thyroid hormone; deafness; dwarfism; otoferlin
7.  Bilateral Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Lesions Prevent Acoustic-Trauma Induced Tinnitus in an Animal Model 
Animal experiments suggest that chronic tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) may result from processes that overcompensate for lost afferent input. Abnormally elevated spontaneous neural activity has been found in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) of animals with psychophysical evidence of tinnitus. However, it has also been reported that DCN ablation fails to reduce established tinnitus. Since other auditory areas have been implicated in tinnitus, the role of the DCN is unresolved. The apparently conflicting electrophysiological and lesion data can be reconciled if the DCN serves as a necessary trigger zone rather than a chronic generator of tinnitus. The present experiment used lesion procedures identical to those that failed to decrease pre-existing tinnitus. The exception was that lesions were done prior to tinnitus induction. Young adult rats were trained and tested using a psychophysical procedure shown to detect tinnitus. Tinnitus was induced by a single unilateral high-level noise exposure. Consistent with the trigger hypothesis, bilateral dorsal DCN lesions made before high-level noise exposure prevented the development of tinnitus. A protective effect stemming from disruption of the afferent pathway could not explain the outcome because unilateral lesions ipsilateral to the noise exposure did not prevent tinnitus and unilateral lesions contralateral to the noise exposure actually exacerbated the tinnitus. The DCN trigger mechanism may involve plastic circuits that, through loss of inhibition, or upregulation of excitation, increase spontaneous neural output to rostral areas such as the inferior colliculus. The increased drive could produce persistent pathological changes in the rostral areas, such as high-frequency bursting and decreased interspike variance, that comprise the chronic tinnitus signal.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0290-3
PMCID: PMC3254712  PMID: 21969021
auditory brainstem; hearing disorder; trigger zone; prevention
8.  Unanesthetized Auditory Cortex Exhibits Multiple Codes for Gaps in Cochlear Implant Pulse Trains 
Cochlear implant listeners receive auditory stimulation through amplitude-modulated electric pulse trains. Auditory nerve studies in animals demonstrate qualitatively different patterns of firing elicited by low versus high pulse rates, suggesting that stimulus pulse rate might influence the transmission of temporal information through the auditory pathway. We tested in awake guinea pigs the temporal acuity of auditory cortical neurons for gaps in cochlear implant pulse trains. Consistent with results using anesthetized conditions, temporal acuity improved with increasing pulse rates. Unlike the anesthetized condition, however, cortical neurons responded in the awake state to multiple distinct features of the gap-containing pulse trains, with the dominant features varying with stimulus pulse rate. Responses to the onset of the trailing pulse train (Trail-ON) provided the most sensitive gap detection at 1,017 and 4,069 pulse-per-second (pps) rates, particularly for short (25 ms) leading pulse trains. In contrast, under conditions of 254 pps rate and long (200 ms) leading pulse trains, a sizeable fraction of units demonstrated greater temporal acuity in the form of robust responses to the offsets of the leading pulse train (Lead-OFF). Finally, TONIC responses exhibited decrements in firing rate during gaps, but were rarely the most sensitive feature. Unlike results from anesthetized conditions, temporal acuity of the most sensitive units was nearly as sharp for brief as for long leading bursts. The differences in stimulus coding across pulse rates likely originate from pulse rate-dependent variations in adaptation in the auditory nerve. Two marked differences from responses to acoustic stimulation were: first, Trail-ON responses to 4,069 pps trains encoded substantially shorter gaps than have been observed with acoustic stimuli; and second, the Lead-OFF gap coding seen for <15 ms gaps in 254 pps stimuli is not seen in responses to sounds. The current results may help to explain why moderate pulse rates around 1,000 pps are favored by many cochlear implant listeners.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0293-0
PMCID: PMC3254721  PMID: 21969022
auditory prosthesis; pulse rate; guinea pig; temporal acuity; forward masking
9.  Bilateral Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Lesions Prevent Acoustic-Trauma Induced Tinnitus in an Animal Model 
Animal experiments suggest that chronic tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) may result from processes that overcompensate for lost afferent input. Abnormally elevated spontaneous neural activity has been found in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) of animals with psychophysical evidence of tinnitus. However, it has also been reported that DCN ablation fails to reduce established tinnitus. Since other auditory areas have been implicated in tinnitus, the role of the DCN is unresolved. The apparently conflicting electrophysiological and lesion data can be reconciled if the DCN serves as a necessary trigger zone rather than a chronic generator of tinnitus. The present experiment used lesion procedures identical to those that failed to decrease pre-existing tinnitus. The exception was that lesions were done prior to tinnitus induction. Young adult rats were trained and tested using a psychophysical procedure shown to detect tinnitus. Tinnitus was induced by a single unilateral high-level noise exposure. Consistent with the trigger hypothesis, bilateral dorsal DCN lesions made before high-level noise exposure prevented the development of tinnitus. A protective effect stemming from disruption of the afferent pathway could not explain the outcome because unilateral lesions ipsilateral to the noise exposure did not prevent tinnitus and unilateral lesions contralateral to the noise exposure actually exacerbated the tinnitus. The DCN trigger mechanism may involve plastic circuits that, through loss of inhibition, or upregulation of excitation, increase spontaneous neural output to rostral areas such as the inferior colliculus. The increased drive could produce persistent pathological changes in the rostral areas, such as high-frequency bursting and decreased interspike variance, that comprise the chronic tinnitus signal.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0290-3
PMCID: PMC3254712  PMID: 21969021
auditory brainstem; hearing disorder; trigger zone; prevention
10.  Unanesthetized Auditory Cortex Exhibits Multiple Codes for Gaps in Cochlear Implant Pulse Trains 
Cochlear implant listeners receive auditory stimulation through amplitude-modulated electric pulse trains. Auditory nerve studies in animals demonstrate qualitatively different patterns of firing elicited by low versus high pulse rates, suggesting that stimulus pulse rate might influence the transmission of temporal information through the auditory pathway. We tested in awake guinea pigs the temporal acuity of auditory cortical neurons for gaps in cochlear implant pulse trains. Consistent with results using anesthetized conditions, temporal acuity improved with increasing pulse rates. Unlike the anesthetized condition, however, cortical neurons responded in the awake state to multiple distinct features of the gap-containing pulse trains, with the dominant features varying with stimulus pulse rate. Responses to the onset of the trailing pulse train (Trail-ON) provided the most sensitive gap detection at 1,017 and 4,069 pulse-per-second (pps) rates, particularly for short (25 ms) leading pulse trains. In contrast, under conditions of 254 pps rate and long (200 ms) leading pulse trains, a sizeable fraction of units demonstrated greater temporal acuity in the form of robust responses to the offsets of the leading pulse train (Lead-OFF). Finally, TONIC responses exhibited decrements in firing rate during gaps, but were rarely the most sensitive feature. Unlike results from anesthetized conditions, temporal acuity of the most sensitive units was nearly as sharp for brief as for long leading bursts. The differences in stimulus coding across pulse rates likely originate from pulse rate-dependent variations in adaptation in the auditory nerve. Two marked differences from responses to acoustic stimulation were: first, Trail-ON responses to 4,069 pps trains encoded substantially shorter gaps than have been observed with acoustic stimuli; and second, the Lead-OFF gap coding seen for <15 ms gaps in 254 pps stimuli is not seen in responses to sounds. The current results may help to explain why moderate pulse rates around 1,000 pps are favored by many cochlear implant listeners.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0293-0
PMCID: PMC3254721  PMID: 21969022
auditory prosthesis; pulse rate; guinea pig; temporal acuity; forward masking
11.  The Frequency Following Response (FFR) May Reflect Pitch-Bearing Information But is Not a Direct Representation of Pitch 
The frequency following response (FFR), a scalp-recorded measure of phase-locked brainstem activity, is often assumed to reflect the pitch of sounds as perceived by humans. In two experiments, we investigated the characteristics of the FFR evoked by complex tones. FFR waveforms to alternating-polarity stimuli were averaged for each polarity and added, to enhance envelope, or subtracted, to enhance temporal fine structure information. In experiment 1, frequency-shifted complex tones, with all harmonics shifted by the same amount in Hertz, were presented diotically. Only the autocorrelation functions (ACFs) of the subtraction-FFR waveforms showed a peak at a delay shifted in the direction of the expected pitch shifts. This expected pitch shift was also present in the ACFs of the output of an auditory nerve model. In experiment 2, the components of a harmonic complex with harmonic numbers 2, 3, and 4 were presented either to the same ear (“mono”) or the third harmonic was presented contralaterally to the ear receiving the even harmonics (“dichotic”). In the latter case, a pitch corresponding to the missing fundamental was still perceived. Monaural control conditions presenting only the even harmonics (“2 + 4”) or only the third harmonic (“3”) were also tested. Both the subtraction and the addition waveforms showed that (1) the FFR magnitude spectra for “dichotic” were similar to the sum of the spectra for the two monaural control conditions and lacked peaks at the fundamental frequency and other distortion products visible for “mono” and (2) ACFs for “dichotic” were similar to those for “2 + 4” and dissimilar to those for “mono.” The results indicate that the neural responses reflected in the FFR preserve monaural temporal information that may be important for pitch, but provide no evidence for any additional processing over and above that already present in the auditory periphery, and do not directly represent the pitch of dichotic stimuli.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0284-1
PMCID: PMC3214239  PMID: 21826534
complex tones; dichotic presentation; monaural temporal information
12.  The Frequency Following Response (FFR) May Reflect Pitch-Bearing Information But is Not a Direct Representation of Pitch 
The frequency following response (FFR), a scalp-recorded measure of phase-locked brainstem activity, is often assumed to reflect the pitch of sounds as perceived by humans. In two experiments, we investigated the characteristics of the FFR evoked by complex tones. FFR waveforms to alternating-polarity stimuli were averaged for each polarity and added, to enhance envelope, or subtracted, to enhance temporal fine structure information. In experiment 1, frequency-shifted complex tones, with all harmonics shifted by the same amount in Hertz, were presented diotically. Only the autocorrelation functions (ACFs) of the subtraction-FFR waveforms showed a peak at a delay shifted in the direction of the expected pitch shifts. This expected pitch shift was also present in the ACFs of the output of an auditory nerve model. In experiment 2, the components of a harmonic complex with harmonic numbers 2, 3, and 4 were presented either to the same ear (“mono”) or the third harmonic was presented contralaterally to the ear receiving the even harmonics (“dichotic”). In the latter case, a pitch corresponding to the missing fundamental was still perceived. Monaural control conditions presenting only the even harmonics (“2 + 4”) or only the third harmonic (“3”) were also tested. Both the subtraction and the addition waveforms showed that (1) the FFR magnitude spectra for “dichotic” were similar to the sum of the spectra for the two monaural control conditions and lacked peaks at the fundamental frequency and other distortion products visible for “mono” and (2) ACFs for “dichotic” were similar to those for “2 + 4” and dissimilar to those for “mono.” The results indicate that the neural responses reflected in the FFR preserve monaural temporal information that may be important for pitch, but provide no evidence for any additional processing over and above that already present in the auditory periphery, and do not directly represent the pitch of dichotic stimuli.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0284-1
PMCID: PMC3214239  PMID: 21826534
complex tones; dichotic presentation; monaural temporal information
13.  Genotype–Phenotype Correlation in DFNB8/10 Families with TMPRSS3 Mutations 
In the present study, genotype–phenotype correlations in eight Dutch DFNB8/10 families with compound heterozygous mutations in TMPRSS3 were addressed. We compared the phenotypes of the families by focusing on the mutation data. The compound heterozygous variants in the TMPRSS3 gene in the present families included one novel variant, p.Val199Met, and four previously described pathogenic variants, p.Ala306Thr, p.Thr70fs, p.Ala138Glu, and p.Cys107Xfs. In addition, the p.Ala426Thr variant, which had previously been reported as a possible polymorphism, was found in one family. All affected family members reported progressive bilateral hearing impairment, with variable onset ages and progression rates. In general, the hearing impairment affected the high frequencies first, and sooner or later, depending on the mutation, the low frequencies started to deteriorate, which eventually resulted in a flat audiogram configuration. The ski-slope audiogram configuration is suggestive for the involvement of TMPRSS3. Our data suggest that not only the protein truncating mutation p.T70fs has a severe effect but also the amino acid substitutions p.Ala306Thr and p.Val199Met. A combination of two of these three mutations causes prelingual profound hearing impairment. However, in combination with the p.Ala426Thr or p.Ala138Glu mutations, a milder phenotype with postlingual onset of the hearing impairment is seen. Therefore, the latter mutations are likely to be less detrimental for protein function. Further studies are needed to distinguish possible phenotypic differences between different TMPRSS3 mutations. Evaluation of performance of patients with a cochlear implant indicated that this is a good treatment option for patients with TMPRSS3 mutations as satisfactory speech reception was reached after implantation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0282-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0282-3
PMCID: PMC3214237  PMID: 21786053
DFNB8/10; TMPRSS3 mutations; cochlear implantation; ski-slope audiogram; genotype–phenotype correlations
14.  Genotype–Phenotype Correlation in DFNB8/10 Families with TMPRSS3 Mutations 
In the present study, genotype–phenotype correlations in eight Dutch DFNB8/10 families with compound heterozygous mutations in TMPRSS3 were addressed. We compared the phenotypes of the families by focusing on the mutation data. The compound heterozygous variants in the TMPRSS3 gene in the present families included one novel variant, p.Val199Met, and four previously described pathogenic variants, p.Ala306Thr, p.Thr70fs, p.Ala138Glu, and p.Cys107Xfs. In addition, the p.Ala426Thr variant, which had previously been reported as a possible polymorphism, was found in one family. All affected family members reported progressive bilateral hearing impairment, with variable onset ages and progression rates. In general, the hearing impairment affected the high frequencies first, and sooner or later, depending on the mutation, the low frequencies started to deteriorate, which eventually resulted in a flat audiogram configuration. The ski-slope audiogram configuration is suggestive for the involvement of TMPRSS3. Our data suggest that not only the protein truncating mutation p.T70fs has a severe effect but also the amino acid substitutions p.Ala306Thr and p.Val199Met. A combination of two of these three mutations causes prelingual profound hearing impairment. However, in combination with the p.Ala426Thr or p.Ala138Glu mutations, a milder phenotype with postlingual onset of the hearing impairment is seen. Therefore, the latter mutations are likely to be less detrimental for protein function. Further studies are needed to distinguish possible phenotypic differences between different TMPRSS3 mutations. Evaluation of performance of patients with a cochlear implant indicated that this is a good treatment option for patients with TMPRSS3 mutations as satisfactory speech reception was reached after implantation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0282-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0282-3
PMCID: PMC3214237  PMID: 21786053
DFNB8/10; TMPRSS3 mutations; cochlear implantation; ski-slope audiogram; genotype–phenotype correlations
15.  High-Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Its Underlying Genetics (Hfhl1 and Hfhl2) in NIH Swiss Mice 
Studies using inbred strains of mice have been invaluable for identifying alleles that adversely affect hearing. However, the efficacy of those studies is limited by the phenotypes that these strains express and the alleles that they segregate. Here, by selectively breeding phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous NIH Swiss mice, we generated two lines—the all-frequency hearing loss (AFHL) line and the high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) line—with differential hearing loss. The AFHL line exhibited characteristics typical of severe, early-onset, sensorineural hearing impairment. In contrast, the HFHL line expressed a novel early-onset, mildly progressive, and frequency-specific sensorineural hearing loss. By quantitative trait loci (QTLs) analyses in these two lines, we identified QTLs on chromosomes 7, 8, and 10 that significantly affected hearing function. The loci on chromosomes 7 and 8 (Hfhl1 and Hfhl2, respectively) are novel and appear to adversely affect only high frequencies (≥30 kHz). Mice homozygous for NIH Swiss alleles at either Hfhl1 or Hfhl2 have 32-kHz auditory-evoked brain stem response thresholds that are 8–14 dB SPL higher than the corresponding heterozygotes. DNA sequence analyses suggest that both the Cdh23ahl and Gipc3ahl5 variants contribute to the chromosome 10 QTL detected in the AFHL line. The frequency-specific hearing loss indicates that the Hfhl1 and Hfhl2 alleles may affect tonotopic development. In addition, dissecting the underlying complex genetics of high-frequency hearing loss may prove relevant in identifying less severe and common forms of hearing impairment in the human population.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0270-7
PMCID: PMC3173551  PMID: 21594677
NIH Swiss; sensorineural hearing loss; quantitative trait locus analysis
16.  High-Frequency Sensorineural Hearing Loss and Its Underlying Genetics (Hfhl1 and Hfhl2) in NIH Swiss Mice 
Studies using inbred strains of mice have been invaluable for identifying alleles that adversely affect hearing. However, the efficacy of those studies is limited by the phenotypes that these strains express and the alleles that they segregate. Here, by selectively breeding phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous NIH Swiss mice, we generated two lines—the all-frequency hearing loss (AFHL) line and the high-frequency hearing loss (HFHL) line—with differential hearing loss. The AFHL line exhibited characteristics typical of severe, early-onset, sensorineural hearing impairment. In contrast, the HFHL line expressed a novel early-onset, mildly progressive, and frequency-specific sensorineural hearing loss. By quantitative trait loci (QTLs) analyses in these two lines, we identified QTLs on chromosomes 7, 8, and 10 that significantly affected hearing function. The loci on chromosomes 7 and 8 (Hfhl1 and Hfhl2, respectively) are novel and appear to adversely affect only high frequencies (≥30 kHz). Mice homozygous for NIH Swiss alleles at either Hfhl1 or Hfhl2 have 32-kHz auditory-evoked brain stem response thresholds that are 8–14 dB SPL higher than the corresponding heterozygotes. DNA sequence analyses suggest that both the Cdh23ahl and Gipc3ahl5 variants contribute to the chromosome 10 QTL detected in the AFHL line. The frequency-specific hearing loss indicates that the Hfhl1 and Hfhl2 alleles may affect tonotopic development. In addition, dissecting the underlying complex genetics of high-frequency hearing loss may prove relevant in identifying less severe and common forms of hearing impairment in the human population.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0270-7
PMCID: PMC3173551  PMID: 21594677
NIH Swiss; sensorineural hearing loss; quantitative trait locus analysis
17.  Responses of Auditory Nerve and Anteroventral Cochlear Nucleus Fibers to Broadband and Narrowband Noise: Implications for the Sensitivity to Interaural Delays 
The quality of temporal coding of sound waveforms in the monaural afferents that converge on binaural neurons in the brainstem limits the sensitivity to temporal differences at the two ears. The anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) houses the cells that project to the binaural nuclei, which are known to have enhanced temporal coding of low-frequency sounds relative to auditory nerve (AN) fibers. We applied a coincidence analysis within the framework of detection theory to investigate the extent to which AVCN processing affects interaural time delay (ITD) sensitivity. Using monaural spike trains to a 1-s broadband or narrowband noise token, we emulated the binaural task of ITD discrimination and calculated just noticeable differences (jnds). The ITD jnds derived from AVCN neurons were lower than those derived from AN fibers, showing that the enhanced temporal coding in the AVCN improves binaural sensitivity to ITDs. AVCN processing also increased the dynamic range of ITD sensitivity and changed the shape of the frequency dependence of ITD sensitivity. Bandwidth dependence of ITD jnds from AN as well as AVCN fibers agreed with psychophysical data. These findings demonstrate that monaural preprocessing in the AVCN improves the temporal code in a way that is beneficial for binaural processing and may be crucial in achieving the exquisite sensitivity to ITDs observed in binaural pathways.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0268-1
PMCID: PMC3123442  PMID: 21567250
coincidence detection; interaural time difference; discrimination; binaural; sound localization
18.  Responses of Auditory Nerve and Anteroventral Cochlear Nucleus Fibers to Broadband and Narrowband Noise: Implications for the Sensitivity to Interaural Delays 
The quality of temporal coding of sound waveforms in the monaural afferents that converge on binaural neurons in the brainstem limits the sensitivity to temporal differences at the two ears. The anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) houses the cells that project to the binaural nuclei, which are known to have enhanced temporal coding of low-frequency sounds relative to auditory nerve (AN) fibers. We applied a coincidence analysis within the framework of detection theory to investigate the extent to which AVCN processing affects interaural time delay (ITD) sensitivity. Using monaural spike trains to a 1-s broadband or narrowband noise token, we emulated the binaural task of ITD discrimination and calculated just noticeable differences (jnds). The ITD jnds derived from AVCN neurons were lower than those derived from AN fibers, showing that the enhanced temporal coding in the AVCN improves binaural sensitivity to ITDs. AVCN processing also increased the dynamic range of ITD sensitivity and changed the shape of the frequency dependence of ITD sensitivity. Bandwidth dependence of ITD jnds from AN as well as AVCN fibers agreed with psychophysical data. These findings demonstrate that monaural preprocessing in the AVCN improves the temporal code in a way that is beneficial for binaural processing and may be crucial in achieving the exquisite sensitivity to ITDs observed in binaural pathways.
doi:10.1007/s10162-011-0268-1
PMCID: PMC3123442  PMID: 21567250
coincidence detection; interaural time difference; discrimination; binaural; sound localization
19.  Response Characteristics in the Apex of the Gerbil Cochlea Studied Through Auditory Nerve Recordings 
In this study, we analyze the processing of low-frequency sounds in the cochlear apex through responses of auditory nerve fibers (ANFs) that innervate the apex. Single tones and irregularly spaced tone complexes were used to evoke ANF responses in Mongolian gerbil. The spike arrival times were analyzed in terms of phase locking, peripheral frequency selectivity, group delays, and the nonlinear effects of sound pressure level (SPL). Phase locking to single tones was similar to that in cat. Vector strength was maximal for stimulus frequencies around 500 Hz, decreased above 1 kHz, and became insignificant above 4 to 5 kHz. We used the responses to tone complexes to determine amplitude and phase curves of ANFs having a characteristic frequency (CF) below 5 kHz. With increasing CF, amplitude curves gradually changed from broadly tuned and asymmetric with a steep low-frequency flank to more sharply tuned and asymmetric with a steep high-frequency flank. Over the same CF range, phase curves gradually changed from a concave-upward shape to a concave-downward shape. Phase curves consisted of two or three approximately straight segments. Group delay was analyzed separately for these segments. Generally, the largest group delay was observed near CF. With increasing SPL, most amplitude curves broadened, sometimes accompanied by a downward shift of best frequency, and group delay changed along the entire range of stimulus frequencies. We observed considerable across-ANF variation in the effects of SPL on both amplitude and phase. Overall, our data suggest that mechanical responses in the apex of the cochlea are considerably nonlinear and that these nonlinearities are of a different character than those known from the base of the cochlea.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0255-y
PMCID: PMC3085685  PMID: 21213012
cochlear mechanics; cochlear apex; phase locking; Meriones unguiculatus
20.  Response Characteristics in the Apex of the Gerbil Cochlea Studied Through Auditory Nerve Recordings 
In this study, we analyze the processing of low-frequency sounds in the cochlear apex through responses of auditory nerve fibers (ANFs) that innervate the apex. Single tones and irregularly spaced tone complexes were used to evoke ANF responses in Mongolian gerbil. The spike arrival times were analyzed in terms of phase locking, peripheral frequency selectivity, group delays, and the nonlinear effects of sound pressure level (SPL). Phase locking to single tones was similar to that in cat. Vector strength was maximal for stimulus frequencies around 500 Hz, decreased above 1 kHz, and became insignificant above 4 to 5 kHz. We used the responses to tone complexes to determine amplitude and phase curves of ANFs having a characteristic frequency (CF) below 5 kHz. With increasing CF, amplitude curves gradually changed from broadly tuned and asymmetric with a steep low-frequency flank to more sharply tuned and asymmetric with a steep high-frequency flank. Over the same CF range, phase curves gradually changed from a concave-upward shape to a concave-downward shape. Phase curves consisted of two or three approximately straight segments. Group delay was analyzed separately for these segments. Generally, the largest group delay was observed near CF. With increasing SPL, most amplitude curves broadened, sometimes accompanied by a downward shift of best frequency, and group delay changed along the entire range of stimulus frequencies. We observed considerable across-ANF variation in the effects of SPL on both amplitude and phase. Overall, our data suggest that mechanical responses in the apex of the cochlea are considerably nonlinear and that these nonlinearities are of a different character than those known from the base of the cochlea.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0255-y
PMCID: PMC3085685  PMID: 21213012
cochlear mechanics; cochlear apex; phase locking; Meriones unguiculatus
21.  Extending the Limits of Place and Temporal Pitch Perception in Cochlear Implant Users 
A series of experiments investigated the effects of asymmetric current waveforms on the perception of place and temporal pitch cues. The asymmetric waveforms were trains of pseudomonophasic (PS) pulses consisting of a short, high-amplitude phase followed by a longer (and lower amplitude) opposite-polarity phase. When such pulses were presented in a narrow bipolar (“BP+1”) mode and with the first phase anodic relative to the most apical electrode (so-called PSA pulses), pitch was lower than when the first phase was anodic re the more basal electrode. For a pulse rate of 12 pulses per second (pps), pitch was also lower than with standard symmetric biphasic pulses in either monopolar or bipolar mode. This suggests that PSA pulses can extend the range of place-pitch percepts available to cochlear implant listeners by focusing the spread of excitation in a more apical region than common stimulation techniques. Temporal pitch was studied by requiring subjects to pitch-rank single-channel pulse trains with rates ranging from 105 to 1,156 pps; this task was repeated at several intra-cochlear stimulation sites and using both symmetric and pseudomonophasic pulses. For PSA pulses presented to apical electrodes, the upper limit of temporal pitch was significantly higher than that for all the other conditions, averaging 713 pps. Measures of discriminability obtained using the method of constant stimuli indicated that this pitch percept was probably weak. However, a multidimensional scaling study showed that the percept associated with a rate change, even at high rates, was orthogonal to that of a place change and therefore reflected a genuine change in the temporal pattern of neural activity.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0248-x
PMCID: PMC3046333  PMID: 21116672
temporal pitch; place pitch; electrical stimulation
22.  Extending the Limits of Place and Temporal Pitch Perception in Cochlear Implant Users 
A series of experiments investigated the effects of asymmetric current waveforms on the perception of place and temporal pitch cues. The asymmetric waveforms were trains of pseudomonophasic (PS) pulses consisting of a short, high-amplitude phase followed by a longer (and lower amplitude) opposite-polarity phase. When such pulses were presented in a narrow bipolar (“BP+1”) mode and with the first phase anodic relative to the most apical electrode (so-called PSA pulses), pitch was lower than when the first phase was anodic re the more basal electrode. For a pulse rate of 12 pulses per second (pps), pitch was also lower than with standard symmetric biphasic pulses in either monopolar or bipolar mode. This suggests that PSA pulses can extend the range of place-pitch percepts available to cochlear implant listeners by focusing the spread of excitation in a more apical region than common stimulation techniques. Temporal pitch was studied by requiring subjects to pitch-rank single-channel pulse trains with rates ranging from 105 to 1,156 pps; this task was repeated at several intra-cochlear stimulation sites and using both symmetric and pseudomonophasic pulses. For PSA pulses presented to apical electrodes, the upper limit of temporal pitch was significantly higher than that for all the other conditions, averaging 713 pps. Measures of discriminability obtained using the method of constant stimuli indicated that this pitch percept was probably weak. However, a multidimensional scaling study showed that the percept associated with a rate change, even at high rates, was orthogonal to that of a place change and therefore reflected a genuine change in the temporal pattern of neural activity.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0248-x
PMCID: PMC3046333  PMID: 21116672
temporal pitch; place pitch; electrical stimulation
23.  Combination of Spectral and Binaurally Created Harmonics in a Common Central Pitch Processor 
A fundamental attribute of human hearing is the ability to extract a residue pitch from harmonic complex sounds such as those produced by musical instruments and the human voice. However, the neural mechanisms that underlie this processing are unclear, as are the locations of these mechanisms in the auditory pathway. The ability to extract a residue pitch corresponding to the fundamental frequency from individual harmonics, even when the fundamental component is absent, has been demonstrated separately for conventional pitches and for Huggins pitch (HP), a stimulus without monaural pitch information. HP is created by presenting the same wideband noise to both ears, except for a narrowband frequency region where the noise is decorrelated across the two ears. The present study investigated whether residue pitch can be derived by combining a component derived solely from binaural interaction (HP) with a spectral component for which no binaural processing is required. Fifteen listeners indicated which of two sequentially presented sounds was higher in pitch. Each sound consisted of two “harmonics,” which independently could be either a spectral or a HP component. Component frequencies were chosen such that the relative pitch judgement revealed whether a residue pitch was heard or not. The results showed that listeners were equally likely to perceive a residue pitch when one component was dichotic and the other was spectral as when the components were both spectral or both dichotic. This suggests that there exists a single mechanism for the derivation of residue pitch from binaurally created components and from spectral components, and that this mechanism operates at or after the level of the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus (brainstem) or the inferior colliculus (midbrain), which receive inputs from the medial superior olive where temporal information from the two ears is first combined.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0250-3
PMCID: PMC3046332  PMID: 21086147
residue pitch; dichotic pitch; diotic pitch; Huggins pitch
24.  Combination of Spectral and Binaurally Created Harmonics in a Common Central Pitch Processor 
A fundamental attribute of human hearing is the ability to extract a residue pitch from harmonic complex sounds such as those produced by musical instruments and the human voice. However, the neural mechanisms that underlie this processing are unclear, as are the locations of these mechanisms in the auditory pathway. The ability to extract a residue pitch corresponding to the fundamental frequency from individual harmonics, even when the fundamental component is absent, has been demonstrated separately for conventional pitches and for Huggins pitch (HP), a stimulus without monaural pitch information. HP is created by presenting the same wideband noise to both ears, except for a narrowband frequency region where the noise is decorrelated across the two ears. The present study investigated whether residue pitch can be derived by combining a component derived solely from binaural interaction (HP) with a spectral component for which no binaural processing is required. Fifteen listeners indicated which of two sequentially presented sounds was higher in pitch. Each sound consisted of two “harmonics,” which independently could be either a spectral or a HP component. Component frequencies were chosen such that the relative pitch judgement revealed whether a residue pitch was heard or not. The results showed that listeners were equally likely to perceive a residue pitch when one component was dichotic and the other was spectral as when the components were both spectral or both dichotic. This suggests that there exists a single mechanism for the derivation of residue pitch from binaurally created components and from spectral components, and that this mechanism operates at or after the level of the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus (brainstem) or the inferior colliculus (midbrain), which receive inputs from the medial superior olive where temporal information from the two ears is first combined.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0250-3
PMCID: PMC3046332  PMID: 21086147
residue pitch; dichotic pitch; diotic pitch; Huggins pitch
25.  The Effect of Static Ear Canal Pressure on Human Spontaneous Otoacoustic Emissions: Spectral Width as a Measure of the Intra-cochlear Oscillation Amplitude 
Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions can be detected as peaks in the Fourier spectrum of a microphone signal recorded from the ear canal. The height, center frequency, and spectral width of SOAE peaks changed when a static pressure was applied to the ear canal. Most commonly, with either increasing or decreasing static pressure, the frequency increased, the amplitude decreased, and the width increased. These changes are believed to result from changes in the middle ear properties. Specifically, reduced middle ear transmission is assumed to attenuate the amplitude of emissions. We reconsidered this explanation by investigating the relation between peak height and width. We showed that the spectral width of SOAE peaks is approximately proportional to \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$$ 1/\sqrt {{{\hbox{peak}}\;{\hbox{height}}}} $$\end{document}. This is consistent with a (Rayleigh) oscillator model in which broadening of the SOAE peak is caused by broadband intra-cochlear noise, which is assumed to be independent of static ear canal pressure. The relation between emission peak height and width implicates that the intra-cochlear oscillation amplitude attentuates relative to the intra-cochlear noise level when a static ear canal pressure is applied. Apparently, ear canal static pressure directly affects the active mechanics in the inner ear.
doi:10.1007/s10162-010-0241-4
PMCID: PMC3015033  PMID: 21061039
human; spontaneous otoacoustic emissions; middle ear; Rayleigh oscillator

Results 1-25 (91)