Progressive negative behavioral changes in normal aging are paralleled by a complex series of physical and functional declines expressed in the cerebral cortex. In studies conducted in the auditory domain, these degrading physical and functional cortical changes have been shown to be broadly reversed by intensive progressive training that improves the spectral and temporal resolution of acoustic inputs and suppresses behavioral distractors. Here we found older rats that were intensively trained on an attentionally
demanding modulation-rate recognition task in young adulthood substantially retained training-driven improvements in temporal rate discrimination abilities over a subsequent 18-mo epoch—that is, forward into their older age. In parallel, this young-adult auditory training enduringly enhanced temporal and spectral information processing in their primary auditory cortices (A1). Substantially greater numbers of parvalbumin- and somatostatin-labeled inhibitory neurons (closer to the numbers recorded in young vigorous adults) were recorded in the A1 and hippocampus in old trained versus untrained age-matched rats. These results show that a simple form of training in young adulthood in this rat model enduringly delays the otherwise expected deterioration of the physical status and functional operations of the auditory nervous system, with evident training impacts generalized to the hippocampus.