Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 361, Issue 1, pp 337–358 | Cite as

Age-related changes in the central auditory system

  • Ladislav Ouda
  • Oliver Profant
  • Josef SykaEmail author


Aging is accompanied by the deterioration of hearing that complicates our understanding of speech, especially in noisy environments. This deficit is partially caused by the loss of hair cells as well as by the dysfunction of the stria vascularis. However, the central part of the auditory system is also affected by processes accompanying aging that may run independently of those affecting peripheral receptors. Here, we review major changes occurring in the central part of the auditory system during aging. Most of the information that is focused on age-related changes in the central auditory system of experimental animals arises from experiments using immunocytochemical targeting on changes in the glutamic-acid-decarboxylase, parvalbumin, calbindin and calretinin. These data are accompanied by information about age-related changes in the number of neurons as well as about changes in the behavior of experimental animals. Aging is in principle accompanied by atrophy of the gray as well as white matter, resulting in the enlargement of the cerebrospinal fluid space. The human auditory cortex suffers not only from atrophy but also from changes in the content of some metabolites in the aged brain, as shown by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In addition to this, functional magnetic resonance imaging reveals differences between activation of the central auditory system in the young and old brain. Altogether, the information reviewed in this article speaks in favor of specific age-related changes in the central auditory system that occur mostly independently of the changes in the inner ear and that form the basis of the central presbycusis.


Presbycusis Immunocytochemistry MRI Human brain Animal brain 



Auditory cortex


Primary auditory cortex


Acoustic startle reflex


C57/BL/6J mouse strain




CB(PV/CR)-deficient strain of mice


CBA/CaJ mouse strain


Calcium binding protein(s)


Caudolateral auditory field


Cochlear nuclei






Cerebrospinal fluid


Dorsal cochlear nucleus


Diffusion tensor imaging


Elderly subjects with expressed presbycusis


Fischer 344 rat strain


Fractional anisotropy


Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Gamma aminobutyric acid


Glutamate-decarboxylase (isoform 67)


Gray matter


Gray matter volume


Heschl’s gyrus


Inferior colliculus






Long-Evans rat strain


Mild cognitive impairment


Mean diffusivity


Medial geniculate body


Mismatch negativity


Medial nucleus of trapezoid body


Elderly subjects with mild presbycusis


Magnetic resonance morphometry


Magnetic resonance spectroscopy


MR spectroscopy




Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydrogen phosphate diaphorase




Positron emission tomography


Prepulse inhibition


Planum temporale




Region of interest


Sensorineural hearing loss


Ventral cochlear nucleus


Volume of interest


Varying voice onset times


White matter


White matter lesion


Young subjects with physiologic hearing



This study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic P304/12/G069 and P304/12/1342.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Auditory Neuroscience, Institute of Experimental MedicineAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, 1st Faculty of Medicine, Charles UniversityUniversity Hospital MotolPragueCzech Republic

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