Tuning Neuronal Potassium Channels to the Auditory Environment

  • Leonard K. KaczmarekEmail author
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 64)


Neurons in auditory brainstem nuclei have developed several molecular and cellular specializations to ensure that auditory information can be relayed and processed at high rates and with very high temporal accuracy. Among these is the expression of Kv3 family voltage-dependent potassium channels such as Kv3.1, which allow the neurons to fire many hundreds of times per second. The specific channel isoforms in auditory neurons change during development, allowing the activity and amount of Kv3.1 to be adjusted by changes in the amplitude and frequencies of sounds in the auditory environment. The molecular mechanisms that produce such adjustments include direct phosphorylation of the channels and rapid alterations in the rates at which the channels are synthesized. These mechanisms, in combination with changes in other types of channels, may maximize the accuracy of information transfer through brainstem nuclei in different auditory environments, and may contribute to the learning of auditory discrimination tasks.


Anteroventral cochlear nucleus Calyx of Held Ion channel Kv3.1 Kv3.3 Medial nucleus of the trapezoid body Protein kinase Sound localization 


Compliance with Ethics Requirements

Leonard K. Kaczmarek has received research grants from Autifony Inc.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Pharmacology and Cellular and Molecular PhysiologyYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA

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