Abstract and Keywords
This article examines age-related changes in the central auditory system from anatomical and neurochemical vantage points, and then the functional consequences of these structural changes are presented in the context of human perception and the underlying physiology of animal model systems. Neural processing in the central auditory system is dependent on the magnitude and timing of excitatory and inhibitory inputs to auditory neurons. Recent evidence suggests that there may be aging changes in other neurotransmitters at the level of the inferior colliculus. The molecular, anatomical, and neurochemical changes occurring with age in the auditory system have functional consequences for central auditory sound processing. Many of these are due to reduced cochlear outputs with age, and others appear to be somewhat independent of these peripheral changes, in line with neurodegenerative deficits of the aging brain. The article reveals that plasticity in the central auditory system often occurs well into old age, which is interesting from the perspectives of both basic neuroscience and future clinical interventions.
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