Noise-Induced Hypersensitization of the Acoustic Startle Response in Larval Zebrafish

  • Ashwin A. BhandiwadEmail author
  • David W. Raible
  • Edwin W. Rubel
  • Joseph A. Sisneros
Research Article


Overexposure to loud noise is known to lead to deficits in auditory sensitivity and perception. We studied the effects of noise exposure on sensorimotor behaviors of larval (5–7 days post-fertilization) zebrafish (Danio rerio), particularly the auditory-evoked startle response and hearing sensitivity to acoustic startle stimuli. We observed a temporary 10–15 dB decrease in startle response threshold after 18 h of flat-spectrum noise exposure at 20 dB re·1 ms−2. Larval zebrafish also exhibited decreased habituation to startle-inducing stimuli following noise exposure. The noise-induced sensitization was not due to changes in absolute hearing thresholds, but was specific to the auditory-evoked escape responses. The observed noise-induced sensitization was disrupted by AMPA receptor blockade using DNQX, but not NMDA receptor blockade. Together, these experiments suggest a complex effect of noise exposure on the neural circuits mediating auditory-evoked behaviors in larval zebrafish.


inner ear damage behavior hearing prepulse inhibition 



We would like to thank Dr. Allison Coffin and Dr. David Glanzman for advice and Tor Linbo and Dr. Dale Hailey for help with training.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the University of Washington Auditory Neuroscience training grant [NIH 2T32DC005361-11] to AAB.


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Copyright information

© Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological StructureUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Virginia M. Bloedel Hearing Research CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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