Fast and accurate processing of sound is crucial for hearing, including the localization of sound in space and the perception of language. In order to correctly process auditory information the brain depends on precisely organized neuronal circuits. A major unresolved question is how the high structural and functional precision that is present in the healthy mature auditory system is achieved during development. Insight into the rules and cellular mechanisms that govern auditory circuit development is not only important for understanding general aspects of brain development but also is crucial for understanding developmental disorders that are rooted in auditory dysfunction including developmental dyslexia and childhood tinnitus.
To investigate the development and plasticity of auditory circuits Dr. Karl Kandler’s laboratory investigates the anatomical and functional refinement of neuronal connections in the lateral superior lobe (LSO), a nucleus which is involved in sound localization. To this end, Dr. Kandler’s team applies a variety of anatomical and physiological approaches to normal and genetically engineered mice. Current research focuses on the role of neuronal activity and early hearing experience in influencing brain connectivity and on the mechanism by which patterns of neuronal activity are translated into patterns of connectivity.