Physiological and morphological characterization of efferent neurones in the guinea pig cochlea

Donald Robertson, Mark Gummer

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    156 Citations (Scopus)


    Efferent neurones within the intraganglionic spiral bundle of the guinea pig cochlea were characterized in terms of their response properties, and their pattern of termination within the receptor organ revealed by intracellular labelling with horseradish peroxidase. All neurones subsequently identified as efferent neurones had clear features of their response properties which distinguished them from primary auditory afferents. They had long latency, low maximum discharge rate and low levels of spontaneous activity under Nembutal/Innovar anaesthesia. The pattern of discharge was extremely regular, revealed by symmetrical interspike interval histograms. 49.4% responded best to ipsilateral, 43.3% to contralateral sound and a third group of 7.3% responded equally well to either ipsilateral or contralateral sound. In cochleae in good physiological condition, these efferents were as sensitive and as sharply tuned as primary afferents with the same characteristic frequencies (CFs). All efferents fully traced in histological processing terminated on the outer hair cells. Several efferents showed extensive branching beneath the inner hair cells which might represent en passant synapses with other neuronal elements. There was clear evidence of tonotopic organization of the efferent projection. The site of termination on the outer hair cells in most instances was very close to the region of the cochlea predicted from the fibres' CF and the known place-frequency map for primary afferent neurones in the guinea pig.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-77
    Number of pages15
    JournalHearing Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1985


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