Perinatal asphyxia, a naturally and commonly occurring risk factor in birthing, represents one of the major causes of neonatal encephalopathy with long term consequences for infants. Here, degraded spectral and temporal responses to sounds were recorded from neurons in the primary auditory cortex (A1) of adult rats exposed to asphyxia at birth. Response onset latencies and durations were increased. Response amplitudes were reduced. Tuning curves were broader. Degraded successive-stimulus masking inhibitory mechanisms were associated with a reduced capability of neurons to follow higher-rate repetitive stimuli. The architecture of peripheral inner ear sensory epithelium was preserved, suggesting that recorded abnormalities can be of central origin. Some implications of these findings for the genesis of language perception deficits or for impaired language expression recorded in developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, contributed to by perinatal asphyxia, are discussed.
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