Discharge patterns of cochlear ganglion neurons in the chicken

J Comp Physiol A. 1992 Feb;170(2):227-41. doi: 10.1007/BF00196905.


Physiological recordings were made of the compound action potential from the round window and single neurons in the cochlear ganglion of normal adult chickens (Gallus domesticus). The compound action potential threshold to tone bursts decreased from approximately 42 dB at 0.25 kHz to 30 dB between 1 and 2 kHz and then increased to 51 dB at 4 kHz. Most of the cochlear ganglion cells had characteristic frequencies below 2 kHz and the thresholds of most neurons were roughly 30-35 dB lower than the compound action potential thresholds. At any given characteristic frequency, thresholds varied by as much as 60 dB and units with the highest thresholds tended to have the lowest spontaneous rates. Spontaneous discharge rates ranged from 0 to 200 spikes/s with a mean rage of 86 spikes/s. Interspike interval histograms of spontaneous activity often contained regular peaks with the time interval between peaks approximately equal to 1/(characteristic frequency). Tuning curves were sharply tuned and V-shaped with approximately equal slopes to the curves above and below characteristic frequency. Q10dB and Q30dB values for the tuning curves increased with characteristic frequency. Post stimulus time histograms showed sustained firing during the stimulus and were characterized by a slight-to-moderate peak at stimulus onset. Most units showed vigorous phase-locking to tones at characteristic frequency although the degree of phase-locking declined sharply with increasing characteristic frequency. Discharge rate-level functions at characteristic frequency had a mean dynamic range of 42 dB and a mean saturation firing rate of 327 spikes/s. In general, the firing patterns of cochlear ganglion neurons are similar in most respects to those reported in other avians, but differ in several important respects from those seen in mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Spiral Ganglion / cytology
  • Spiral Ganglion / physiology*