Developmental hearing loss impedes auditory task learning and performance in gerbils

Gardiner von Trapp, Ishita Aloni, Stephen Young, Malcolm N. Semple, Dan H. Sanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The consequences of developmental hearing loss have been reported to include both sensory and cognitive deficits. To investigate these issues in a non-human model, auditory learning and asymptotic psychometric performance were compared between normal hearing (NH) adult gerbils and those reared with conductive hearing loss (CHL). At postnatal day 10, before ear canal opening, gerbil pups underwent bilateral malleus removal to induce a permanent CHL. Both CHL and control animals were trained to approach a water spout upon presentation of a target (Go stimuli), and withhold for foils (Nogo stimuli). To assess the rate of task acquisition and asymptotic performance, animals were tested on an amplitude modulation (AM) rate discrimination task. Behavioral performance was calculated using a signal detection theory framework. Animals reared with developmental CHL displayed a slower rate of task acquisition for AM discrimination task. Slower acquisition was explained by an impaired ability to generalize to newly introduced stimuli, as compared to controls. Measurement of discrimination thresholds across consecutive testing blocks revealed that CHL animals required a greater number of testing sessions to reach asymptotic threshold values, as compared to controls. However, with sufficient training, CHL animals approached control performance. These results indicate that a sensory impediment can delay auditory learning, and increase the risk of poor performance on a temporal task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-10
Number of pages8
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Amplitude modulation
  • Attention
  • Development
  • Hearing loss
  • Learning
  • Plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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