- Neurobiology and Behavior Graduate Program, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific St., Seattle, WA 98195, USA
- Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific St., Seattle, WA 98195, USA
- Estrogens influence mammalian auditory development.
- Estrogens protect the mammalian auditory system from damage.
- Estrogens enhance auditory function during breeding periods.
- Brain-derived estrogens can enhance local response properties in the avian forebrain.
Sex-steroid hormones are well-known regulators of vocal motor behavior in several organisms.
A large body of evidence now indicates that these same hormones modulate processing at multiple levels of the ascending auditory pathway.
The goal of this review is to provide a comparative analysis of the role of estrogens in vertebrate auditory function.
Four major conclusions can be drawn from the literature:
First, estrogens may influence the development of the mammalian auditory system.
Second, estrogenic signaling protects the mammalian auditory system from noise- and age-related damage. Third, estrogens optimize auditory processing during periods of reproductive readiness in multiple vertebrate lineages.
Finally, brain-derived estrogens can act locally to enhance auditory response properties in at least one avian species.
This comparative examination may lead to a better appreciation of the role of estrogens in the processing of natural vocalizations and mayprovide useful insights toward alleviating auditory dysfunctions emanating from hormonal imbalances.
Available online 31 July 2013