Congenital sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) affects thousands of infants each year and results in significant delays in speech and language development. Previous studies have shown that early exposure to a simple augmented acoustic environment (AAE) can limit the effects of progressive SNHL on hearing sensitivity. However, SNHL is also accompanied by, hidden hearing loss, that is not assessed on standard audiological exams, such as reduced temporal processing acuity. To assess whether sound therapy may improve these hidden deficits, a mouse model of congenital SNHL was exposed to simple or temporally complex AAE. Peripheral function and sound sensitivity in auditory midbrain neurons improved following exposure to both types of AAE. However, only exposure to a novel, temporally complex AAE significantly improved a measure of temporal processing acuity, neural gap-in-noise detection in the auditory midbrain. These experiments suggest that targeted sound therapy may improve hearing outcomes for children suffering from congenital SNHL.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience