Activity of primary auditory neurons in the cochlear ganglion of the emu Dromaius novaehollandiae: spontaneous discharge, frequency tuning, and phase locking.

The spontaneous and pure-tone sound-driven activity of primary auditory units was recorded in the cochlear ganglion of emu chicks aged between post-hatching days 1 and 14. Spontaneous activity tended to increase both with the chick’s age and as a function of the unit’s characteristic frequency (CF). The CF of 887 units ranged from 0.04 to 4 kHz, the thresholds down to 0 dB SPL. Although the CF range did not change, the thresholds improved with age during the first two weeks after hatching, by up to 18 dB at the highest frequencies. The threshold spread between units of similar CF in single animals was up to 60 dB. Rate-threshold tuning-curve symmetry varied with CF. In low-frequency units, the slope of the low-frequency tuning-curve flank was on average steeper than the high-frequency flank, whereas for high-frequency units, the reverse was true. Units of CF > 0.5 kHz generally showed low-frequency “tails” similar to those seen in mammalian primary auditory fibers. The mean tuning-curve frequency selectivity increased with CF. For units of CF > 0.2 kHz, thresholds were moderately correlated with tuning-curve frequency selectivity. Significant phase locking was observed up to about 4 kHz, the corner frequency of phase locking being at 1.15 kHz.

J Acoust Soc Am. 1997 Mar;101(3):1560-73.

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