Donald M. Caspary and Daniel A. Llano
As arguably the third most common malady of industrialized populations, age-related hearing loss is associated with social isolation and depression in a subset of the population that will approach 25% by 2050. Development of behavioral or pharmacotherapeutic approaches to prevent or delay the onset of age-related hearing loss and mitigate the impact of hearing loss of speech understanding requires a better understanding of age-related changes that occur in the central auditory processor. This chapter critically reviews and discusses changes that occur in the auditory brainstem and thalamus with increased age. It briefly discusses age-related cellular changes that occur de novo within the central auditory system versus deafferentation plasticity and animal models of aging. Subsections discuss the cochlear nucleus, superior olivary complex, inferior colliculus, and the medial geniculate body with an emphasis on age-related changes in neurotransmission and how these changes could underpin the observed loss of precise temporal processing with increased age.
Nina Kraus and Trent Nicol
The encoding of speech and music in the auditory brainstem is available at the human scalp via the auditory-evoked frequency following response. The FFR, primarily reflecting activity in the inferior colliculus, may be evoked by speech or music stimulation and represents the combined activity of sensorimotor, cognitive, and reward centers in the brain. Its response properties, like the inferior colliculus itself, are influenced by long-term experience with sound. The transparency, individual-level reliability, and ability to gauge neural plasticity provide the researcher and clinician a powerful probe of auditory processing in the human brainstem. With it, we have learned a great deal about how mechanisms of decline, deprivation, and enrichment affect the processing of complex signals such as music and speech in the human brainstem.
Changes in the Inferior Colliculus Associated with Hearing Loss: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, Age-Related Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
Alan R. Palmer and Joel I. Berger
The inferior colliculus is an important auditory relay center that undergoes fundamental changes following hearing loss, whether noise induced (NIHL) or age related (ARHL). These changes may contribute to the induction or maintenance of phenomena such as tinnitus (phantom auditory sensations) and hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sound). Here, we outline changes that can occur in the inferior colliculus following damage to the periphery and/or as a result of the ageing process, both immediate and long-term, and attempt to disentangle which changes relate to either tinnitus or hyperacusis, as opposed to solely hearing loss. Understanding these changes is ultimately important to reversing the underlying pathology and treating these conditions.
Donata Oertel, Xiao-Jie Cao, and Alberto Recio-Spinoso
Plasticity in neuronal circuits is essential for optimizing connections as animals develop and for adapting to injuries and aging, but it can also distort the processing, as well as compromise the conveyance of ongoing sensory information. This chapter summarizes evidence from electrophysiological studies in slices and in vivo that shows how remarkably robust signaling is in principal cells of the ventral cochlear nucleus. Even in the face of short-term plasticity, these neurons signal rapidly and with temporal precision. They can relay ongoing acoustic information from the cochlea to the brain largely independently of sounds to which they were exposed previously.
Roy E. Ritzmann and Sasha N. Zill
This article discusses legged locomotion in insects. It describes the basic patterns of coordinated movement both within each leg and among the various legs. The nervous system controls these actions through groups of joint pattern generators coupled through interneurons and interjoint reflexes in a range of insect species. These local control systems within the thoracic ganglia rely on leg proprioceptors that monitor joint movement and cuticular strain interacting with central pattern generation interneurons. The local control systems can change quantitatively and qualitatively as needed to generate turns or more forceful movements. In dealing with substantial obstacles or changes in navigational movements, more profound changes are required. These rely on sensory information processed in the brain that projects to the multimodal sensorimotor neuropils collectively referred to as the central complex. The central complex affects descending commands that alter local control circuits to accomplish appropriate redirected movements.
Leonard K. Kaczmarek
All neurons express a subset of over seventy genes encoding potassium channel subunits. These channels have been studied in auditory neurons, particularly in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body. The amplitude and kinetics of various channels in these neurons can be modified by the auditory environment. It has been suggested that such modulation is an adaptation of neuronal firing patterns to specific patterns of auditory inputs. Alternatively, such modulation may allow a group of neurons, all expressing the same set of channels, to represent a variety of responses to the same pattern of incoming stimuli. Such diversity would ensure that a small number of genetically identical neurons could capture and encode many aspects of complex sound, including rapid changes in timing and amplitude. This review covers the modulation of ion channels in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body and how it may maximize the extraction of auditory information.
Giedre Milinkeviciute and Karina S. Cramer
The auditory brainstem carries out sound localization functions that require an extraordinary degree of precision. While many of the specializations needed for these functions reside in auditory neurons, additional adaptations are made possible by the functions of glial cells. Astrocytes, once thought to have mainly a supporting role in nervous system function, are now known to participate in synaptic function. In the auditory brainstem, they contribute to development of specialized synapses and to mature synaptic function. Oligodendrocytes play critical roles in regulating timing in sound localization circuitry. Microglia enter the central nervous system early in development, and also have important functions in the auditory system’s response to injury. This chapter highlights the unique functions of these non-neuronal cells in the auditory system.
Alex S. Mauss and Alexander Borst
Visual perception seems effortless to us, yet it is the product of elaborate signal processing in intricate brain circuits. Apart from vertebrates, arthropods represent another major animal group with sophisticated visual systems in which the underlying mechanisms can be studied. Arthropods feature identified neurons and other experimental advantages, facilitating an understanding of circuit function at the level of individual neurons and their synaptic interactions. Here, focusing on insect and crustacean species, we summarize and connect our current knowledge in four related areas of research: (1) elementary motion detection in early visual processing; (2) the detection of higher level visual features such as optic flow fields, small target motion and object distance; (3) the integration of such signals with other sensory modalities; and (4) state-dependent visual motion processing.
Guy Levy, Nir Nesher, Letizia Zullo, and Binyamin Hochner
Motor Control is essentially the computations required for producing coordinated sequences of commands from the controlling system (i.e., nervous system) to the actuation system (i.e., muscles) to generate efficient motion. The level of motor control complexity depends on the number of free parameters (degrees of freedom) that have to be coordinated. This number is much smaller in skeletal animals because they have a rather limited number of joints. In soft bodied animals, like the octopus, this number is virtually infinite. Here we show that the efficient motor control system of the octopus uses solutions that are very different from those of articulated animals, and it involves embodied co-evolution of the unique morphology together with the organization of the nervous and muscular systems to enable control strategies that are best suited for a highly active soft-bodied animal like the octopus.
Shobhana Sivaramakrishnan, Ashley Brandebura, Paul Holcomb, Daniel Heller, Douglas Kolson, Dakota Jackson, Peter H. Mathers, and George A. Spirou
Bushy cells (BC) of the cochlear nucleus mono-innervate their target neuron, the principal cell of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), via the calyx of Held (CH) terminal, which is a typically mammalian structure and perhaps the largest nerve terminal in the brain. CH:MNTB innervation has become an attractive model to study neural circuit formation because it forms quickly, passing through stages of competition in mice within 2–4 days. BCs innervate MNTB neurons by E17, but CHs do not begin to grow for another five days (P3). Progress has been made to identify molecular factors for axon guidance, and CH growth, and physiological maturation of synaptic partners, but important details remain to be discovered. We summarize key events in CH formation and highlight unresolved issues in molecular and physiological signaling, roles for non-neural cells, and the nature of competition during the first postnatal week.