Recruitment of the Auditory Cortex in Congenitally Deaf Cats by Long-Term Cochlear Electrostimulation

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Science  10 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5434, pp. 1729-1733
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5434.1729

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In congenitally deaf cats, the central auditory system is deprived of acoustic input because of degeneration of the organ of Corti before the onset of hearing. Primary auditory afferents survive and can be stimulated electrically. By means of an intracochlear implant and an accompanying sound processor, congenitally deaf kittens were exposed to sounds and conditioned to respond to tones. After months of exposure to meaningful stimuli, the cortical activity in chronically implanted cats produced field potentials of higher amplitudes, expanded in area, developed long latency responses indicative of intracortical information processing, and showed more synaptic efficacy than in naı̈ve, unstimulated deaf cats. The activity established by auditory experience resembles activity in hearing animals.

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  • On leave of absence from Institute of Pathological Physiology, Sasinkova 4, SK-81108 Bratislava, Slovak Republic.

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