Little is known about the neural bases of the reduced auditory and cortical processing speeds that have been recorded in language-impaired, autistic, schizophrenic, and other disabled human populations. Although there is strong evidence for genetic contributions to etiologies, epigenetic factors such as perinatal anoxia (PA) have been argued to be contributors, or causal, in a significant proportion of cases. In this article, we explored the consequences of PA on this elementary aspect of auditory behavior and on auditory system function in rats that were briefly perinatally anoxic. PA rats had increased acoustic thresholds and reduced processing efficiencies recorded in an auditory behavioral task. These rats had modestly increased interpeak intervals in their auditory brainstem responses, and substantially longer latencies in poststimulus time histogram responses recorded in the primary auditory cortex. The latter were associated with degraded primary auditory cortex receptive fields and a disrupted tonotopy. These processing deficits are consistent with the parallel behavioral and physiological deficits recorded in children and adults with a history of language-learning impairment and autism.
Perinatal anoxia degrades auditory system function in rats / STRATA F.; CHANG EF; DEIPOLYI AR; BONHAM BH; NAKAHARA H; LIU RC; MERZENICH MM. - In: PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. - ISSN 1091-6490. - 102(2005), pp. 19156-19161. [10.1073/pnas.0509520102]