Start Year: 2023
Starting Institution: University of Southern Denmark
Current Institution: University of Southern Denmark
Project Title: Unraveling the presynaptic mechanisms of noise overexposure in avian auditory receptor cells
The increasing presence of human-made machines have induced rapid anthropogenic changes in the environment. Alarmingly, anthropogenic noise is reported to lead to decreased auditory sensitivity thresholds in a wide range of species. The auditory systems of various species show differing levels of susceptibility to noise overexposures and varying capability to recover from them. This is why future efforts to protect and repair hearing function require comparative studies into the mechanisms of noise-induced hearing loss. Normal hearing relies on the function of hair cells and their synaptic contacts. While it is well established that noise exposure detrimentally targets the mechanosensory apparatus of hair cells and the postsynaptic terminals, the possible effects on the presynaptic terminals remain to be characterized in detail. To gain insights into these possible effects, I explore whether a noise-induced temporary threshold shift (TTS) correlates with short-term changes in the functionality of the zebra finch tall hair cell presynaptic terminals using whole-cell patch clamp approaches. Secondly, I investigate whether homotypic hair cell coupling – an enigmatic phenomenon recently described to occur between rodent hair cells – also exists between avian hair cells and is modulated by noise-induced cellular stress.