Distribution of rate-intensity function types in chick cochlear nerve after exposure to intense sound

Stefan K.R. Plontke, Jonathan Lifshitz, James C. Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Intense sound exposure to the chick ear produces cochlear damage and losses in auditory function. At twelve days post exposure there is considerable structural repair, although a defect on the sensory epithelium remains in the form of an incompletely healed 'patch' lesion. Auditory function significantly recovers 12 days after the exposure, but it, too, is incomplete. In this paper we describe the relationship between stimulus intensity and cochlear nerve discharge rate (the rate-intensity function) in two groups of chicks. One is exposed to damaging sound levels but allowed 12 days to recover, while the other is a group of non-exposed and age-matched control animals. Three different types of rate-intensity functions were identified; saturating, sloping, and straight. The percentage of saturating and sloping functions was compared across all characteristic frequencies in both groups of animals. A significant change was observed in the distribution of these types for recovered units with characteristic frequencies within the region of the patch lesion. In addition, the rate-intensity functions of these units exhibited a steeper slope and a higher maximum response. The distribution of rate-intensity function types and their slope and maximum responses, for units with characteristic frequencies outside of the patch lesion, was similar to those found in control ears. The changes in the cochlear nerve response in exposed chicks may be due to alterations in cochlear mechanics, hair cell or synaptic membrane properties, hair cell innervation, or the loss of a tonic suppression of afferent activity exerted by the damaged short hair cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-274
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 18 1999


  • Acoustic injury
  • Auditory function
  • Basilar papilla
  • Chick
  • Cochlear nerve
  • Rate-intensity functions
  • Recovery of function
  • Single-unit recordings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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