Developmental aspects of the auditory system as probed in various animal models and in human studies.

Dr. Bob Harrison
Hospital for Sick Children

I have conducted a range of basic animal studies and human clinical research that generally reveal "age-related plasticity". More specifically, during the development of the auditory system, early experimental manipulations or clinical interventions are generally more effective than those made later. I will review many these studies, and consider some in detail. I will discuss basic neuro-physiological animal experiments which probe the establishment and the plasticity of the tonotopic organization of the auditory system. I will also present clinical studies which show age-related plasticity in relation to the timing of cochlear implantation in congenitally deaf children; these studies largely involve behavioural outcome measures.  These two approaches to explore auditory system development, i.e. basic animal studies and human experiments, each have advantages and disadvantages. I hope to stir up some discussion (gentle argument?) between the biologists and the psychologists as to which approach is most fruitful!