Lateral olivocochlear (LOC) efferent neurons modulate auditory nerve fiber (ANF) activity using a large repertoire of neurotransmitters, including dopamine (DA) and acetylcholine (ACh). Little is known about how individual neurotransmitter systems are differentially utilized in response to the ever-changing acoustic environment. Here we present quantitative evidence in rodents that the dopaminergic LOC input to ANFs is dynamically regulated according to the animal’s recent acoustic experience. Sound exposure upregulates tyrosine hydroxylase, an enzyme responsible for dopamine synthesis, in cholinergic LOC intrinsic neurons, suggesting that individual LOC neurons might at times co-release ACh and DA. We further demonstrate that dopamine down-regulates ANF firing rates by reducing both the hair cell release rate and the size of synaptic events. Collectively, our results suggest that LOC intrinsic neurons can undergo on-demand neurotransmitter re-specification to re-calibrate ANF activity, adjust the gain at hair cell/ANF synapses, and possibly to protect these synapses from noise damage.
- Auditory nerve fiber
- Noise damage
- Olivocochlear lateral efferents
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)