Professor Victoria Baja Lorenzana : ‘Practice makes perfect – Neural circuits for auditory plasticity’

We have a remarkable ability to identify and localise sounds, based on spectral content and binaural cues that change depending on the relative positions of the head and the sound source. Differences in the time of arrival, intensity and frequency content of sounds at the level of the ear are computed in the brain in a manner that enables us to maintain a stable percept of auditory objects over time. At the same time, experience modifies our sensorial perception, a process that is the basis for learning and is fundamental for survival. My research is focused upon identifying neural circuits essential for perceptual stability and plasticity. In this seminar, I will present two examples of auditory plasticity. Using a model of reversible conductive hearing loss and a sound localisation behavioural paradigm, I will reveal the role of the auditory cortex, its descending corticofugal projections and its cholinergic modulatory inputs in adult experience-dependent plasticity. In the last part of my talk, I will explore the emergence of “abnormal” plasticity following selective cochlear lesion, with gap detection behaviour employed to identify a tinnitus-like percept in a new animal model.