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Prenatal Loud Music and Noise: Differential Impact on Physiological Arousal, Hippocampal Synaptogenesis and Spatial Behavior in One Day-Old Chicks

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067347
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Organism Development
  • Model Organisms
  • Animal Models
  • Chicken
  • Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Synaptic Plasticity
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Learning And Memory
  • Medicine
  • Obstetrics And Gynecology
  • Pregnancy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Musicology


Prenatal auditory stimulation in chicks with species-specific sound and music at 65 dB facilitates spatial orientation and learning and is associated with significant morphological and biochemical changes in the hippocampus and brainstem auditory nuclei. Increased noradrenaline level due to physiological arousal is suggested as a possible mediator for the observed beneficial effects following patterned and rhythmic sound exposure. However, studies regarding the effects of prenatal high decibel sound (110 dB; music and noise) exposure on the plasma noradrenaline level, synaptic protein expression in the hippocampus and spatial behavior of neonatal chicks remained unexplored. Here, we report that high decibel music stimulation moderately increases plasma noradrenaline level and positively modulates spatial orientation, learning and memory of one day-old chicks. In contrast, noise at the same sound pressure level results in excessive increase of plasma noradrenaline level and impairs the spatial behavior. Further, to assess the changes at the molecular level, we have quantified the expression of functional synapse markers: synaptophysin and PSD-95 in the hippocampus. Compared to the controls, both proteins show significantly increased expressions in the music stimulated group but decrease in expressions in the noise group. We propose that the differential increase of plasma noradrenaline level and altered expression of synaptic proteins in the hippocampus are responsible for the observed behavioral consequences following prenatal 110 dB music and noise stimulation.

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