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J Neurophysiol. 1991 Jan;65(1):123-32.

The olivocochlear efferent bundle and susceptibility of the inner ear to acoustic injury.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


1. The role of the efferent olivocochlear bundle (OCB) in protecting the inner ear from acoustic injury was studied in the anesthetized cat. Middle-ear muscles (MEM) were cut to eliminate possible effects of this feedback system on the auditory periphery. In each of a series of animals, the OCB was unilaterally transected. The animal was then exposed binaurally to an intense pure tone, and the resultant damage to the two sides compared by measuring threshold shifts in the compound action potential from each ear. Data from each animal provide one control measurement (threshold shift with an intact OCB) and one experimental measurement (threshold shift without a functional OCB). 2. Two experimental series were analyzed. In one the OCB was electrically stimulated, providing maximal firing rates in the efferents projecting to the control ear. In another series the OCB was not electrically stimulated: thus any OCB activity to the control ear was only that evoked by the acoustic stimulation itself. 3. In neither experimental series was there evidence that activity in the OCB provides protection from acoustic injury. These results are in disagreement with conclusions drawn from experiments with acoustic overstimulation of guinea pigs. 4. Interpretations for the discrepancy between the present study and those on guinea pigs include interspecies differences and the possible contribution of the MEM reflex or cochlear blood-flow changes to previously observed effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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