Efferent feedback controls bilateral auditory spontaneous activity

Yixiang Wang, Maya Sanghvi, Alexandra Gribizis, Yueyi Zhang, Lei Song, Barbara Morley, Daniel G. Barson, Joseph Santos-Sacchi, Dhasakumar Navaratnam, Michael Crair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In the developing auditory system, spontaneous activity generated in the cochleae propagates into the central nervous system to promote circuit formation. The effects of peripheral firing patterns on spontaneous activity in the central auditory system are not well understood. Here, we describe wide-spread bilateral coupling of spontaneous activity that coincides with the period of transient efferent modulation of inner hair cells from the brainstem medial olivocochlear system. Knocking out α9/α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, a requisite part of the efferent pathway, profoundly reduces bilateral correlations. Pharmacological and chemogenetic experiments confirm that the efferent system is necessary for normal bilateral coupling. Moreover, auditory sensitivity at hearing onset is reduced in the absence of pre-hearing efferent modulation. Together, these results demonstrate how afferent and efferent pathways collectively shape spontaneous activity patterns and reveal the important role of efferents in coordinating bilateral spontaneous activity and the emergence of functional responses during the prehearing period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2449
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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