Origins and use of the stochastic and sound-evoked extracellular activity of the auditory nerve

Daniel Brown

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] The present study investigated whether any of the characteristics of the compound action potential (CAP) waveform or the spectrum of the neural noise (SNN) recorded from the cochlea, could be used to examine abnormal spike generation in the type I primary afferent neurones, possibly due to pathologies leading to abnormal hearing such as tinnitus or tone decay. It was initially hypothesised that the CAP waveform and SNN contained components produced by the local action currents generated at the peripheral ends of the type I primary afferent neurones, and that changes in these local action currents occurred due to changes in the membrane potential of these neurones. It was further hypothesised that the lateral olivo-cochlear system (LOCS) efferent neurones regulate the membrane potential of the primary afferent dendrites to maintain normal action potential generation, where instability in the membrane potential might lead to abnormal primary afferent firing, and possibly one form of tinnitus. We had hoped that the activity of the LOCS efferent neurones could be observed through secondary changes in the CAP waveform and SNN, resulting from changes in the membrane potential of the primary afferent neurones. The origins of the neural activity generating the CAP waveform and SNN peaks, and the effects of the LOCS on the CAP and SNN were experimentally investigated in guinea pigs using lesions in the auditory system, transient ischemia and asphyxia, focal and systemic temperature changes, and pharmacological manipulations of different regions along the auditory pathway. ... Therefore, the CAP and SNN are altered by changes in the propagation of the action potential along the primary afferent neurones, by changes in the morphology of the tissues surrounding the cochlear nerve, and by changes in the time course of the action currents. If the CAP waveform is not altered, the amplitude of the 1kHz speak in the spontaneous SNN can be used as an objective measure of the spontaneous firing rate of the cochlear neurones. However, because the SNN contains a complex mixture of neural activity from all cochlear neurones, and the amplitude of the spontaneous SNN is variable, it would be difficult to use the spontaneous SNN alone as a differential diagnostic test of cochlear nerve pathologies. To record extratympanic electrocochleography (ET ECochG) from humans, a custom-designed, inexpensive, low-noise, optically isolated biological amplifier was built. Furthermore, a custom-designed extratympanic active electrode and ear canal indifferent electrode were designed, which increased the signal-to-noise ratio of the ECochG recording by a factor of 2, decreasing the overall recording time by 75%. The human and guinea pig CAP waveforms recorded in the present study appeared similar, suggesting that the origins of the human and guinea pig CAP waveforms were the same, and that experimental manipulations of the guinea pig CAP waveform can be used to diagnose the cause of abnormal human ECochG waveforms in cases of cochlear nerve pathologies.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


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