The discovery of estrogen-dependent plasticity in the peripheral auditory system of teleost fish provides an ideal model for establishing the cellular, molecular and neurophysiological mechanisms leading to steroid modulation of audition. Female midshipman fish use the multi-harmonic vocalizations (""""""""hums"""""""") of males for mate localization and exhibit dramatic reproductive state- dependent shifts in the encoding of the male's hum by eighth nerve afferents that innervate the saccule, the main peripheral auditory organ in teleosts. Thus, the primary saccular afferents of reproductive females, compared to those of non-reproductive females, show an increase in best frequency and improvement in the precision of temporal encoding (via phase-locking) to the upper harmonics of male hums. Either 17|3-estradiol or testosterone treatment of non-reproductive females for 3-5 weeks induces the enhanced auditory phenotype of reproductive females, consistent with transcriptionally-dependent events. The observed changes are likely entirely due to estrogen that circulates at two fold higher levels in reproductive females. In addition, auditory ganglion cells adjacent to the saccule's hair cell layer express the enzyme aromatase that converts estrogen, and can therefore aromatize circulating testosterone to augment the locally available source of estrogen.
Two specific aims will investigate estrogen-dependent shifts in molecular (potassium channels and estrogen receptors) and neurophysiological (hair cell and primary afferent encoding) mechanisms that can lead to improvements in temporal processing via phase-locking in the auditory system. The proposed studies will also delineate mechanisms of sensorineural plasticity that are relevant to shifts in age-related hormonal states, including changes in audition that occur during the reproductive cycle and in clinical syndromes""""""""associatedwith abnormal patterns of hormone secretion (e.g., Turner's Syndrome)..Lastly, the proposed experiments will lead to a more fundamental understanding of how deficits in the temporal encoding of acoustic signals, dependent on phase-locking mechanisms, contribute to impairments in hearing observed among humans including those .with auditory; neuropathy/dys-synchrony.. '-.'?......

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
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Cyr, Janet
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Cornell University
Other Basic Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Bass, Andrew H (2014) Central pattern generator for vocalization: is there a vertebrate morphotype? Curr Opin Neurobiol 28:94-100
Rohmann, Kevin N; Fergus, Daniel J; Bass, Andrew H (2013) Plasticity in ion channel expression underlies variation in hearing during reproductive cycles. Curr Biol 23:678-83
Fergus, Daniel J; Bass, Andrew H (2013) Localization and divergent profiles of estrogen receptors and aromatase in the vocal and auditory networks of a fish with alternative mating tactics. J Comp Neurol 521:2850-69
Kittelberger, J Matthew; Bass, Andrew H (2013) Vocal-motor and auditory connectivity of the midbrain periaqueductal gray in a teleost fish. J Comp Neurol 521:791-812
Chagnaud, Boris P; Bass, Andrew H (2013) Vocal corollary discharge communicates call duration to vertebrate auditory system. J Neurosci 33:18775-80
Banerjee, Sunayana B; Arterbery, Adam S; Fergus, Daniel J et al. (2012) Deprivation of maternal care has long-lasting consequences for the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis of zebra finches. Proc Biol Sci 279:759-66
Chagnaud, Boris P; Baker, Robert; Bass, Andrew H (2011) Vocalization frequency and duration are coded in separate hindbrain nuclei. Nat Commun 2:346
Arterbery, Adam S; Fergus, Daniel J; Fogarty, Elizabeth A et al. (2011) Evolution of ligand specificity in vertebrate corticosteroid receptors. BMC Evol Biol 11:14
Rice, Aaron N; Land, Bruce R; Bass, Andrew H (2011) Nonlinear acoustic complexity in a fish 'two-voice' system. Proc Biol Sci 278:3762-8
Rohmann, Kevin N; Bass, Andrew H (2011) Seasonal plasticity of auditory hair cell frequency sensitivity correlates with plasma steroid levels in vocal fish. J Exp Biol 214:1931-42

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