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Hear Res. 1987;29(2-3):125-38.

Effects of outer hair cell loss on the frequency selectivity of the patas monkey auditory system.


This report describes a study that took advantage of the unique reactivity of the patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas) to dihydrostreptomycin-sulfate (DHSM) to investigate the effects of selective outer hair cell (OHC) lesions on psychophysical tuning curves (PTC). Four patas monkeys were trained using operant reinforcement techniques to perform forward masking PTCs at frequencies of 500 Hz, 2, 4, and 8 kHz, at 10 dB SL. Steady and pulsed-tone thresholds were also measured from 63 Hz to 40 kHz in half-octave steps. The animals were given daily i.m. injections of DHSM at 20 mg/kg per day until shifts in absolute threshold at 16 kHz exceeded 10 dB, at which time the drug was discontinued. Initial changes in PTC shape included elevations in the tip region associated with the increase in threshold and no elevation or a hypersensitivity of the low-frequency tail region. In general, threshold and therefore PTC tip elevations of at least 40 dB were required before any increase in the low-frequency tail became evident. Following completion of psychophysical testing, animals were sacrificed and cytochochleograms were determined. At frequencies corresponding to regions of complete OHC loss and complete IHC retention a lack of selectivity was evident and PTCs closely resemble low-pass filters. This residual low-pass tuning is similar to that seen in VIIIth nerve fibers in ears devoid of OHCs and in basilar membrane transfer functions from traumatized ears. PTCs taken at frequencies corresponding to areas with no loss of receptors showed no systematic changes in sensitivity or selectivity. Because loss of normal OHC function results in greater than a 50-dB loss in sensitivity, as well as a detuned PTC, these findings strongly support the suggestion that the role of the OHC system is to increase the sensitivity and selectivity of the auditory system.

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