Noise & health

Early-life exposure to noise reduces mPFC astrocyte numbers and T-maze alternation/discrimination task performance in adult male rats.

PMID 26168952


In this experiment, we evaluated the long-term effects of noise by assessing both astrocyte changes in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and mPFC-related alternation/discrimination tasks. Twenty-one-day-old male rats were exposed during a period of 15 days to a standardized rats' audiogram-fitted adaptation of a human noisy environment. We measured serum corticosterone (CORT) levels at the end of the exposure and periodically registered body weight gain. In order to evaluate the long-term effects of this exposure, we assessed the rats' performance on the T-maze apparatus 3 months later. Astrocyte numbers and proliferative changes in mPFC were also evaluated at this stage. We found that environmental noise (EN) exposure significantly increased serum CORT levels and negatively affected the body weight gain curve. Accordingly, enduring effects of noise were demonstrated on mPFC. The ability to solve alternation/discrimination tasks was reduced, as well as the number of astroglial cells. We also found reduced cytogenesis among the mPFC areas evaluated. Our results support the idea that early exposure to environmental stressors may have long-lasting consequences affecting complex cognitive processes. These results also suggest that glial changes may become an important element behind the cognitive and morphological alterations accompanying the PFC changes seen in some stress-related pathologies.