Efforts of sensory neuroscience are often directed at understanding how the brain represents sensory information and how this, in turn, is related to behavior. For example, auditory perceptual skills in adulthood are correlated with the activity of a single or an ensemble of neurons. However, this relationship has not been assessed during development, when both neural activity and behavior change dramatically. For example, auditory perception matures over a tremendously varied time course in humans, some percepts not reaching adult levels until adolescence. Since our knowledge of auditory perception comes almost entirely from humans, I first examined when auditory perception reaches maturity in an animal model that can be used to directly address possible neural correlates.
Understanding when a percept is immature may also reveal when it is most sensitive to sensory experience. In fact, development plasticity studies have repeatedly shown that altering early sensory experience can influence neural function. Primarily, these studies have used dramatic, yet passive, manipulations (e.g., eye suture, ear plugging) in developing animals that have led to striking modifications of central coding properties. In contrast to these kinds of manipulations, sensory training has only been examined in adults. And while training adults on an auditory task generally leads to improved performance and may also alter the sensory encoding properties, it is not known how developmental training, beginning prior to perceptual maturation (when the system is presumably more vulnerable to experience), influences adult performance. Therefore, I examined the impact of developmental auditory training on adult performance in an animal model, as an essential step towards understanding its relationship to neural encoding.
|Advisor:||Sanes, Dan H.|
|Commitee:||Aoki, Chiye, Froemke, Robert, Kiorpes, Lynne, Woolley, Sarah|
|School:||New York University|
|Department:||Center for Neural Science|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Adult performance, Auditory perception, Brain, Juvenile training, Neurons, Sensory information|
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