Sensory deprivation during development induces lifelong changes to central nervous system function that are associated with perceptual impairments. However, the relationship between neural and behavioral deficits is uncertain due to a lack of simultaneous measurements during task performance. Therefore, we telemetrically recorded from auditory cortex neurons in gerbils reared with developmental conductive hearing loss as they performed an auditory task in which rapid fluctuations in amplitude are detected. These data were compared to a measure of auditory brainstem temporal processing from each animal. We found that developmental HL diminished behavioral performance, but did not alter brainstem temporal processing. However, the simultaneous assessment of neural and behavioral processing revealed that perceptual deficits were associated with a degraded cortical population code that could be explained by greater trial-to-trial response variability. Our findings suggest that the perceptual limitations that attend early hearing loss are best explained by an encoding deficit in auditory cortex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)