Neural Contributions to the Cochlear Summating Potential: Spiking and Dendritic Components

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2022 Jun;23(3):351-363. doi: 10.1007/s10162-022-00842-6. Epub 2022 Mar 7.


Using electrocochleography, the summating potential (SP) is a deflection from baseline to tones and an early rise in the response to clicks. Here, we use normal hearing gerbils and gerbils with outer hair cells removed with a combination of furosemide and kanamycin to investigate cellular origins of the SP. Round window electrocochleography to tones and clicks was performed before and after application of tetrodotoxin to prevent action potentials, and then again after kainic acid to prevent generation of an EPSP. With appropriate subtractions of the response curves from the different conditions, the contributions to the SP from outer hair cells, inner hair cell, and neural "spiking" and "dendritic" responses were isolated. Like hair cells, the spiking and dendritic components had opposite polarities to tones - the dendritic component had negative polarity and the spiking component had positive polarity. The magnitude of the spiking component was larger than the dendritic across frequencies and intensities. The onset to tones and to clicks followed a similar sequence; the outer hair cells responded first, then inner hair cells, then the dendritic component, and then the compound action potential of the spiking response. These results show the sources of the SP include at least the four components studied, and that these have a mixture of polarities and magnitudes that vary across frequency and intensity. Thus, multiple possible interactions must be considered when interpreting the SP for clinical uses.

Keywords: Auditory evoked response; Cochlear implants; Cochlear synaptopathy; Electrocochleography; Endolymphatic hydrops.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Audiometry, Evoked Response
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials*
  • Cochlear Nerve* / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer