Working Paper Review Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Hearing Loss and Brain Plasticity: The Hyperactivity Phenomenon

Version 1 : Received: 4 September 2020 / Approved: 5 September 2020 / Online: 5 September 2020 (04:54:15 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 14 April 2021 / Approved: 15 April 2021 / Online: 15 April 2021 (13:34:54 CEST)

How to cite: Herrmann, B.; Butler, B. Hearing Loss and Brain Plasticity: The Hyperactivity Phenomenon. Preprints 2020, 2020090116 Herrmann, B.; Butler, B. Hearing Loss and Brain Plasticity: The Hyperactivity Phenomenon. Preprints 2020, 2020090116


Many aging adults experience some form of hearing problems that may arise from auditory peripheral damage. However, it has been increasingly acknowledged that hearing loss is not only a dysfunction of the auditory periphery but results from changes within the entire auditory system, from periphery to cortex. Damage to the auditory periphery is associated with an increase in neural activity at various stages throughout the auditory pathway. Here, we review neurophysiological evidence of hyperactivity, auditory perceptual difficulties that may result from hyperactivity, and outline open conceptual and methodological questions related to the study of hyperactivity. We suggest that hyperactivity alters all aspects of hearing – including spectral, temporal, spatial hearing – and, in turn, impairs speech comprehension when background sound is present. By focusing on the perceptual consequences of hyperactivity and the potential challenges of investigating hyperactivity in humans, we hope to bring animal and human electrophysiologists closer together to better understand hearing problems in older adulthood.


hearing loss; aging; hyperactivity; excitability; loss of inhibition; neurophysiology; auditory perception; neural plasticity; speech processing


Medicine and Pharmacology, Neuroscience and Neurology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 15 April 2021
Commenter: Bjorn Herrmann
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Discussions were extended. Additional references were cited. Terminology was corrected. Clarity was improved.
+ Respond to this comment

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
* All users must log in before leaving a comment
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 1
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.