Increased Synchrony and Bursting of Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Fusiform Cells Correlate with Tinnitus.

By February 10, 2016

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Calvin Wu Susan E. Shore
J Neuroscience Acute Guinea Pig Cochlear Nucleus Penetrating Electrode

Tinnitus, the perception of phantom sounds, is thought to arise from increased neural synchrony, which facilitates perceptual binding and creates salient sensory features in the absence of physical stimuli. In the auditory cortex, increased spontaneous cross-unit synchrony and single-unit bursting are de facto physiological correlates of tinnitus. However, it is unknown whether neurons in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), the putative tinnitus-induction site, exhibit increased synchrony. Using a temporary-threshold shift model and gap-prepulse inhibition of the acoustic startle to assess tinnitus, we recorded spontaneous activity from fusiform cells, the principle neurons of the DCN, in normal hearing, tinnitus, and non-tinnitus guinea pigs. Synchrony and bursting, as well as spontaneous firing rate (SFR), correlated with behavioral evidence of tinnitus, and increased  synchrony and bursting were associated with SFR elevation. The presence of increased synchrony and bursting in DCN fusiform cells suggests that a neural code for phantom sounds emerges in this brainstem location and likely contributes to the formation of the tinnitus percept.

J Neurosci. 2016 Feb 10;36(6):2068-73. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3960-15.2016. February 10, 2016 University of Michigan