Neuromodulators such as serotonin (5-HT) are often considered in the context of mood or appetite disorders, but they also strongly influence the way that auditory information is processed and perceived. However, we understand very little of how the actions of 5-HT on the neural circuitry of the auditory system are involved in normal perception or in disease. The proposed experiments will address these issues by examining the influence of two types of 5-HT receptor on frequency tuning of neurons in a midbrain auditory nucleus, the inferior colliculus (IC). Frequency tuning is a fundamental characteristic of auditory neurons, but can be changed by learning or by depriving the auditory system of its normal input. In previous studies of single neurons in the IC, one of the most prominent effects of 5-HT was on frequency tuning. Two 5-HT receptors, the 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptors, have opposing effects on tuning, with the 5-HT1A receptor limiting frequency tuning, and the 5-HT1B receptor expanding tuning. In pursuing this finding, the objectives of this proposal are 3-fold: 1) To more fully characterize how these two receptors change frequency tuning. This will be accomplished by using 2-tone stimuli to examine the interactions between the excitatory and inhibitory inputs that establish frequency tuning in the IC, while locally manipulating the receptors. 2) To test the hypothesis that the receptors act partly by affecting inhibitory inputs to IC neurons. This will be accomplished by determining whether blockers of inhibition also block the effects of the two receptors, and by determining whether activating the receptors alters directly visualized inhibitory inputs. 3) To establish whether these changes in frequency tuning occur in groups of neurons that play particular roles in the circuitry of the IC. This will be determined by identifying neurons morphologically by filling single neurons with neurobiotin and immunohistochemically by co-labeling neurons for the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. The results of these studies will provide a rich functional profile of neuronal response properties and anatomy that will clarify the role of the 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptors in the IC and lay the groundwork for studying their role in auditory dysfunction.

Public Health Relevance

The potential involvement of serotonin in auditory disorders that are primary or that are associated with affective disorders has received little attention. Defining how the 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptors act to alter frequency filtering in the IC will lay the groundwork for addressing the role of serotonin in auditory dysfunctions such as poor speech perception, auditory hypersensitivity, or tinnitus.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Auditory System Study Section (AUD)
Program Officer
Platt, Christopher
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Indiana University Bloomington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Keesom, Sarah M; Hurley, Laura M (2016) Socially induced serotonergic fluctuations in the male auditory midbrain correlate with female behavior during courtship. J Neurophysiol 115:1786-96
Hanson, Jessica L; Hurley, Laura M (2016) Serotonin, estrus, and social context influence c-Fos immunoreactivity in the inferior colliculus. Behav Neurosci 130:600-613
Papesh, Melissa A; Hurley, Laura M (2016) Modulation of auditory brainstem responses by serotonin and specific serotonin receptors. Hear Res 332:121-36
Smith, Adam R; Kwon, Jae Hyun; Navarro, Marco et al. (2014) Acoustic trauma triggers upregulation of serotonin receptor genes. Hear Res 315:40-8
Papesh, Melissa A; Hurley, Laura M (2012) Plasticity of serotonergic innervation of the inferior colliculus in mice following acoustic trauma. Hear Res 283:89-97
Hurley, Laura M; Sullivan, Megan R (2012) From behavioral context to receptors: serotonergic modulatory pathways in the IC. Front Neural Circuits 6:58
Hanson, Jessica L; Hurley, Laura M (2012) Female presence and estrous state influence mouse ultrasonic courtship vocalizations. PLoS One 7:e40782
Hurley, L M; Hall, I C (2011) Context-dependent modulation of auditory processing by serotonin. Hear Res 279:74-84
Hall, Ian C; Sell, Gabrielle L; Hurley, Laura M (2011) Social regulation of serotonin in the auditory midbrain. Behav Neurosci 125:501-11
Ramsey, Lissandra Castellan Baldan; Sinha, Shiva R; Hurley, Laura M (2010) 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptors differentially modulate rate and timing of auditory responses in the mouse inferior colliculus. Eur J Neurosci 32:368-79

Showing the most recent 10 out of 11 publications