Investigating the Role of Nicotinic Cholinergic Receptors in the Human Auditory System Many of the ascending central nervous system (CNS) pathways, including the auditory pathways, are cholinergic, incorporating nicotinic, cholinergic receptors (nAChRs) (Bhargava, Salamy, & McKean, 1978, Grollman & Grollman, 1970). Normal functions of nAChRs in the processing of auditory information are unclear. In the auditory system, nAChRs typically are activated ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2001
Investigating the Role of Nicotinic Cholinergic Receptors in the Human Auditory System
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ashley W. Harkrider
    Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   October 01, 2001
Investigating the Role of Nicotinic Cholinergic Receptors in the Human Auditory System
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, October 2001, Vol. 5, 3-5. doi:10.1044/hhd5.1.3
SIG 6 Perspectives on Hearing and Hearing Disorders: Research and Diagnostics, October 2001, Vol. 5, 3-5. doi:10.1044/hhd5.1.3
Many of the ascending central nervous system (CNS) pathways, including the auditory pathways, are cholinergic, incorporating nicotinic, cholinergic receptors (nAChRs) (Bhargava, Salamy, & McKean, 1978, Grollman & Grollman, 1970). Normal functions of nAChRs in the processing of auditory information are unclear. In the auditory system, nAChRs typically are activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Nicotine can mimic the action of acetylcholine and so exerts its action by binding to, and activating, nAChRs (Benowitz, 1988). Thus, the effects of nicotine on responses from the auditory system elucidate the role of nAChRs in auditory processing.
Animal studies have provided valuable information about the neural action of nicotine (Bickford & Wear, 1995; Bhargava, Salamy, & Shah, 1981; Guha & Pradhan, 1976; Stevens & Wear, 1997) and may explain similar findings in humans (Friedman, Goldberg, Horvath, & Meares, 1974; Friedman & Meares, 1980; Knott, 1985; Harkrider, Champlin, & McFadden, 2001; Harkrider & Champlin; 2001a; Harkrider & Champlin, 2001b; Kumar & Tandon, 1996; Wesnes & Warburton, 1983). Results indicate nicotine acts on nAChRs in the mes-encephalic reticular formation and stimulates ascending pathways to the cortex. These pathways release acetylcholine and control electro-cortical activity. Further findings implicate nAChRs in the hippocampus as critical in the modulation of sensory gating, defined as the prevention of irrelevant stimuli from ascending to higher levels (Bhargava et al., 1981; Stevens & Wear, 1997).
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