Patterns of afferent synaptic contacts in the alligator lizard's cochlea

J Comp Neurol. 1986 Jun 8;248(2):263-71. doi: 10.1002/cne.902480209.


Afferent synapses on both free-standing and tectorial hair cells in the alligator lizard's cochlea are described quantitatively. Semiserial sections were photographed with a transmission electron microscope. Hair cells together with their afferent nerves were reconstructed and morphometrically analyzed with the aid of a computer. Each afferent nerve forms many synapses with its hair cell. Tectorial afferents make more than twice the number of synapses with their hair cells as do free-standing afferents. This suggests a possible neuroanatomical basis for the physiological difference in synchrony reported in these two types of auditory nerve fibers; namely, the greater the number of synapses the better a fiber is able to follow faithfully the response of its hair cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlea / innervation*
  • Cochlea / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / ultrastructure
  • Lizards
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Synaptic Transmission