Long-term effects of sectioning the olivocochlear bundle in neonatal cats

Edward J. Walsh, Joann McGee, Sandra L. McFadden, M. Charles Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


The olivocochlear bundle (OCB) was cut in neonatal cats to evaluate its role in the development of normal cochlear function. Approximately 1 year after deefferentation, acute auditory nerve fiber (ANF) recordings were made from lesioned animals, lesion shams, and normal controls. The degree of deefferentation was quantified via light microscopic evaluation of the density of OCB fascicles in the tunnel of Corti, and selected cases were analyzed via electron microscopy. In the most successful cases, the deefferentation was virtually complete. ANFs from successfully lesioned animals exhibited significant pathophysiology compared with normals and with other animals in which the surgery failed to interrupt the OCB. Thresholds at the characteristic frequency (CF), the frequency at which ANFs are most sensitive, were elevated across the CF range, with maximal effects for CFs in the 10 kHz region. Frequency threshold or tuning curves displayed reduction of tip-to-tail ratios (the difference between CF and low-frequency 'tail' thresholds) and decreased sharpness of tuning. These pathological changes are generally associated with outer hair cell (OHC) damage. However, light microscopic histological analysis showed minimal hair cell loss and no significant differences between normal and deefferented groups. Spontaneous discharge rates (SRs) were lower than normal; however, those fibers with the highest SRs remained more sensitive than those with lower SRs. Findings suggest that the interaction between OC efferents and OHCs early in development may be critical for full expression of active mechanical processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3859-3869
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1998


  • Auditory
  • Cochlea
  • Deefferentation
  • Development
  • Efferent
  • Hearing
  • Olivocochlear
  • Superior olivary complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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