Behavioral evidence for possible simultaneous induction of hyperacusis and tinnitus following intense sound exposure.
Many human subjects suffering from chronic tinnitus also suffer from hyperacusis, a heightened perception of loudness at moderate to intense sound levels.
While numerous studies suggest that animals develop chronic tinnitus following intense noise exposure, it is not yet clear whether sound exposure also induces chronic hyperacusis-like responses in animals.
We addressed this question by examining the chronic effects of intense sound exposure on the acoustic startle response (ASR) and its suppression by background noise containing brief gaps.
We compared startle amplitudes in intense tone-exposed (10 kHz, 115 dB SPL, 4 h) and age-matched controls at 2-28 weeks post-exposure.
While both groups showed similar startle thresholds, exposed animals showed a hyperacusis-like augmentation of ASR at high stimulus levels.
Addition of background noise had little effect on ASR in controls but had a strong suppressive effect on startle in exposed animals, indicating a sensitization to background noise.
When the background noise contained a gap preceding the startle stimulus, ASR was suppressed in control animals, but exposed animals showed a marked weakening of gap-induced suppression of ASR. This weakening of gap-induced startle suppression is consistent with the interpretation that the gap may have been masked by tinnitus.
The associated hyper-responsiveness to startle stimuli presented alone and the sensitization to background noise suggest that hyperacusis may have also been induced.
The results indicate that noise exposure leads to increases in the gain of auditory responsiveness and may offer a model of the association of hyperacusis with tinnitus.
Fuente: Jaro - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2013;Vol 14(3):413 24