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Musicianship Enhances Monaural and Binaural Efferent Gain Control to the Cochlea
Abstracts of the Annual MidWinter Research Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (2017)
  • Gavin M. Bidelman, University of Memphis
  • Amy Schneider, University of Memphis
  • Victoria R. Heitzmann, University of Memphis
  • Shaum P. Bhagat, University of Memphis
Abstract
Human hearing sensitivity is easily compromised with overexposure to excessively loud sounds, leading to permanent hearing damage. Consequently, finding activities and/or experiential factors that distinguish “tender” from “tough” ears (i.e., acoustic vulnerability) would be important for identifying people at higher risk for hearing damage. To regulate sound transmission and protect the inner ear against acoustic trauma, the auditory system modulates gain control to the cochlea via biological feedback of the medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferents, a neuronal pathway linking the lower brainstem and cochlear outer hair cells. We hypothesized that a salient form of auditory experience shown to have pervasive neuroplastic benefits, namely musical training, might act to fortify hearing through tonic engagement of these reflexive pathways. By measuring MOC efferent feedback via otoacoustic emissions (cochlear emitted sounds), we show that both dynamic cochlear gain control both within (monaural) and between (binaural) the ears is enhanced in musically-trained individuals. Across all participants, MOC strength was correlated with the years of listeners’ training suggested that efferent gain control is experience dependent. Our data provide new evidence that intensive listening experience(s) (e.g., musicianship) can strengthen the MOC efferent system and sound regulation to the inner ear bilaterally. Implications for reducing acoustic vulnerability to damaging sounds are discussed. 
Publication Date
2017
Citation Information
Gavin M. Bidelman, Amy Schneider, Victoria R. Heitzmann and Shaum P. Bhagat. "Musicianship Enhances Monaural and Binaural Efferent Gain Control to the Cochlea" Abstracts of the Annual MidWinter Research Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology Vol. 40 (2017) p. 51 - 51
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/shaum-bhagat/77/