Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

James Willott, Ph.D., Chair

Co-Major Professor

Jennifer Lister, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Committee Member

Raymond Hurley, Ph.D., Member


Augmented Acoustic Environment, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Noise Exposure, Auditory Development, Animal Modeling


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an atypical pattern of early acoustic stimulation on auditory development. Previous human research suggests that the acoustic environment of pre-term human infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) negatively affects some aspects of auditory development. Animal research suggests that premature auditory stimulation interrupts auditory development. Because mice are born before their auditory systems are developed, they make an excellent model for research on fetal and postnatal plasticity of the auditory system. The premature auditory state of newborn mice is similar to that of the NICU pre-term infant, albeit, natural for mice

C57 mouse pups were exposed to an augmented acoustic environment (AAE) of a nightly 12-hour regiment of 70 dB SPL noise burst, beginning before age 12 days (onset of hearing) and lasting for one month. The prepulse inhibition (PPI) of mice exposed to the AAE was compared to that of non-exposed mice to observe short-term and long-term effects. Results showed that the prepulse inhibition of the AAE exposed mice did not differ significantly from that of the non-exposed mice. However, it is possible that the measurement used, PPI, may not have been appropriate or that the AAE may not have been an appropriate simulation of the NICU environment.