Presentation by Dr. Etienne de Villers-Sidani
Lifelong shaping of auditory cortical processing by sensory experience
Abstract: The rodent auditory cortex has provided a particularly useful model for studying cortical plasticity phenomenology and mechanisms, both in infant and in adult animal models. Much of our initial understanding of the neurological processes underlying learning-induced changes in the cortex stems from the early exploitation of this model. More recent studies have provided a rich and elaborate demonstration of the “rules” governing representational plasticity induced during the critical period, and in the longer post-critical-period “adult” plasticity epoch. These studies have also contributed importantly to the application of these “rules” to the development of practical training tools designed to improve the functional capacities of the auditory, language and reading capacities of both children with developmental impairments, and adults with acquired impairments in the auditory/aural speed and related cognitive domains.
Using age as a connecting thread, I will review recent studies performed in the rat primary auditory cortex (A1) that have provided further insight into the role of sensory experience in the shaping auditory signal representations, and into their possible role in shaping the machinery that regulates ‘adult’ plasticity in A1. With this background, the role of auditory training in the remediation of auditory processing impairments is briefly discussed.
Bio: Etienne de Villers-Sidani is Assistant Professor and Neurologist at Montreal Neurological Institute & McGill University Health Care Center. He is particularly interested in the role of sensory experience and brain plasticity in the onset and treatment of cognitive dysfunctions. Using electrophysiological techniques, his lab is investigating how sounds and hearing education both shape cortical circuits and affect how sounds are perceived and used in memory and decision-making.