Subtle alterations of vestibulomotor functioning in conductive hearing loss

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Vardhan Basnet
  • Yuqi Mao
  • Leilei Pan
  • Victor Ma
  • William C. Cho
  • Shile Tian
  • Ziqi An
  • Yanqiu Feng
  • Yi-Ling Cai
  • Martin Pienkowski


Original languageEnglish
Article number1057551
Number of pages15
Journal / PublicationFrontiers in Neuroscience
Online published29 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023



Introduction: Conductive hearing loss (CHL) attenuates the ability to transmit air conducted sounds to the ear. In humans, severe hearing loss is often accompanied by alterations to other neural systems, such as the vestibular system; however, the inter-relations are not well understood. The overall goal of this study was to assess vestibular-related functioning proxies in a rat CHL model.
Methods: Male Sprague–Dawley rats (N=134, 250g, 2months old) were used in a CHL model which produced a >20dB threshold shift induced by tympanic membrane puncture. Auditory brainstem response (ABRs) recordings were used to determine threshold depth at different times before and after CHL. ABR threshold depths were assessed both manually and by an automated ABR machine learning algorithm. Vestibular-related functioning proxy assessment was performed using the rotarod, balance beam, elevator vertical motion (EVM) and Ferris-wheel rotation (FWR) assays.
Results: The Pre-CHL (control) threshold depth was 27.92dB±11.58dB compared to the Post-CHL threshold depth of 50.69dB±13.98dB (mean±SD) across the frequencies tested. The automated ABR machine learning algorithm determined the following threshold depths: Pre-CHL=24.3dB, Post-CHL same day=56dB, Post-CHL 7 days=41.16dB, and Post-CHL 1 month=32.5dB across the frequencies assessed (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32kHz). Rotarod assessment of motor function was not significantly different between pre and post-CHL (~1week) rats for time duration (sec) or speed (RPM), albeit the former had a small effect size difference. Balance beam time to transverse was significantly longer for post-CHL rats, likely indicating a change in motor coordination. Further, failure to cross was only noted for CHL rats. The defection count was significantly reduced for CHL rats compared to control rats following FWR, but not EVM. The total distance traveled during open-field examination after EVM was significantly different between control and CHL rats, but not for FWR. The EVM is associated with linear acceleration (acting in the vertical plane: up-down) stimulating the saccule, while the FWR is associated with angular acceleration (centrifugal rotation about a circular axis) stimulating both otolith organs and semicircular canals; therefore, the difference in results could reflect the specific vestibular-organ functional role.
Discussion: Less movement (EVM) and increase time to transverse (balance beam) may be associated with anxiety and alterations to defecation patterns (FWR) may result from autonomic disturbances due to the impact of hearing loss. In this regard, vestibulomotor deficits resulting in changes in balance and motion could be attributed to comodulation of auditory and vestibular functioning. Future studies should manipulate vestibular functioning directly in rats with CHL. 
© 2023 Manno, Cheung, Basnet, Khan, Mao, Pan, Ma, Cho, Tian, An, Feng, Cai, Pienkowski and Lau.

Research Area(s)

  • eighth cranial nerve, motion, psychomotor, vestibular, vestibular dysfunction, vestibulocochlear

Citation Format(s)

Subtle alterations of vestibulomotor functioning in conductive hearing loss. / Manno, Francis A. M.; Cheung, Pikting; Basnet, Vardhan et al.
In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol. 17, 1057551, 2023.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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