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Hear Res. 1998 Aug;122(1-2):82-96.

Development of the base of the cochlea: place code shift in the gerbil.

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Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7923, USA.


Distortion product otoacoustic emission measurements were made at 1/12 octave intervals before and after the injection of furosemide in gerbils aged 15 days after birth to adult, in order to obtain estimates of cochlear amplifier gain as a function of stimulus frequency. The frequency at which the gains went sharply to zero, defined as the 'base cutoff frequency', increased from about 20 kHz to over 50 kHz during development. This increase provides further confirmation of the hypothesis that the place code changes during development in the basal part of the cochlea. If the measured base cutoff frequency is identified with the characteristic frequency at the basal end of the cochlea, as defined by electrophysiological measures, then these emission data can be used to generate a frequency-place map as a function of age. The derived place code shift is consistent with published electrophysiological measures, and can be used to extend these measures. Near the base cutoff frequency, the observed cochlear amplifier gain typically dropped sharply from a relative maximum to zero, over a distance of about a half octave. Specifically, this distance appeared to exhibit a curvilinear variation with age, reaching a maximum of 3/4 of an octave at 19-21 days. After transforming from frequency to place using the map derived from emissions, however, the distance between the extreme base and the place associated with the peak gain decreased monotonically from about 1.2 mm at age 15-19 days to 0.6 mm at maturity. This distance is assumed to be characteristic of the length of the active amplification zone for the cochlear amplifier in the base region. Over the same time period, there was approximately a doubling of the rate of amplification with distance from the base, so that the cochlear amplifier gain at the peak actually changed very little from 15 days to adult.

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