Sobering observations from Zhang et al on our hippocampus-related learning and memory:
The noise pollution accompanying industrialization is a risk factor to human health. Here, we show in a rodent model that even moderate-level noise at ∼65 dB SPL that has little effect on stress status can substantially impair hippocampus-related learning and memory by altering the plasticity of synaptic transmission. It is possible that because moderately loud noise does not affect peripheral hearing per se, the negative impacts of chronic exposure to such noise are currently not well characterized. Our results indicate the importance of more thoroughly defining these possibly hitherto unappreciated hazards of noise pollution in modern human environments.Abstract
The neural mechanisms underlying the impacts of noise on nonauditory function, particularly learning and memory, remain largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that rats exposed postnatally (between postnatal days 9 and 56) to structured noise delivered at a sound pressure level of ∼65 dB displayed significantly degraded hippocampus-related learning and memory abilities. Noise exposure also suppressed the induction of hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). In parallel, the total or phosphorylated levels of certain LTP-related key signaling molecules in the synapses of the hippocampus were down-regulated. However, no significant changes in stress-related processes were found for the noise-exposed rats. These results in a rodent model indicate that even moderate-level noise with little effect on stress status can substantially impair hippocampus-related learning and memory by altering the plasticity of synaptic transmission. They support the importance of more thoroughly defining the unappreciated hazards of moderately loud noise in modern human environments.