Ambient noise exposure induces long-term adaptations in adult brainstem neurons
To counterbalance long-term environmental changes, neuronal circuits adapt the processing of sensory information. In the auditory system, ongoing background noise drives long-lasting adaptive mechanism in binaural coincidence detector neurons in the superior olive. However, the compensatory cellular mechanisms of the binaural neurons in the medial superior olive (MSO) to long-term background changes are unexplored. Here we investigated the cellular properties of MSO neurons during long-lasting adaptations induced by moderate omnidirectional noise exposure. After noise exposure, the input resistance of MSO neurons of mature Mongolian gerbils was reduced, likely due to an upregulation of hyperpolarisation-activated cation and low voltage-activated potassium currents. Functionally, the long-lasting adaptations increased the action potential current threshold and facilitated high frequency output generation. Noise exposure accelerated the occurrence of spontaneous postsynaptic currents. Together, our data suggest that cellular adaptations in coincidence detector neurons of the MSO to continuous noise exposure likely increase the sensitivity to differences in sound pressure levels.