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February 28, 2017
The effect of noise exposure during the developmental period on the function of the auditory system

Bureš Z, Popelář J, Syka J. Review. Hearing Research. 2016 Mar 16. pii: S0378-5955(16)30062-4. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2016.03.008. [Epub ahead of print]

Recently, there has been growing evidence that development and maturation of the auditory system depends substantially on the afferent activity supplying inputs to the developing centers. In cases when this activity is altered during early ontogeny as a consequence of, e.g., an unnatural acoustic environment or acoustic trauma, the structure and function of the auditory system may be severely affected. Pathological alterations may be found in populations of ribbon synapses of the inner hair cells, in the structure and function of neuronal circuits, or in auditory driven behavioral and psychophysical performance. Three characteristics of the developmental impairment are of key importance: first, they often persist to adulthood, permanently influencing the quality of life of the subject; second, their manifestations are different and sometimes even contradictory to the impairments induced by noise trauma in adulthood; third, they may be ‘hidden’ and difficult to diagnose by standard audiometric procedures used in clinical practice. This paper reviews the effects of early interventions to the auditory system, in particular, of sound exposure during ontogeny. We summarize the results of recent morphological, electrophysiological, and behavioral experiments, discuss the putative mechanisms and hypotheses, and draw possible consequences for human neonatal medicine and noise health.
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