Auditory processing remains sensitive to environmental experience during adolescence in a rodent model

Kelsey L. Anbuhl, Justin D. Yao, Robert A. Hotz, Todd M. Mowery, Dan H. Sanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevated neural plasticity during development contributes to dramatic improvements in perceptual, motor, and cognitive skills. However, malleable neural circuits are vulnerable to environmental influences that may disrupt behavioral maturation. While these risks are well-established prior to sexual maturity (i.e., critical periods), the degree of neural vulnerability during adolescence remains uncertain. Here, we induce transient hearing loss (HL) spanning adolescence in gerbils, and ask whether behavioral and neural maturation are disrupted. We find that adolescent HL causes a significant perceptual deficit that can be attributed to degraded auditory cortex processing, as assessed with wireless single neuron recordings and within-session population-level analyses. Finally, auditory cortex brain slices from adolescent HL animals reveal synaptic deficits that are distinct from those typically observed after critical period deprivation. Taken together, these results show that diminished adolescent sensory experience can cause long-lasting behavioral deficits that originate, in part, from a dysfunctional cortical circuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2872
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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