The tonotopic map in the embryonic chicken cochlea

Sherri M. Jones, Timothy A. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to determine the tonotopic map in the chicken cochlea at 19 days of incubation (E19) by obtaining characteristic frequencies (CFs) for primary afferents, labeling the characterized neurons, and documenting their projections to the papilla. The lowest and highest CFs recorded were 188 and 1623 Hz respectively. The embryonic tonotopic map coincided with maps reported for post-hatch chicks. There was no evidence that neurons selective to low frequencies project inappropriately to more basal locations of the embryonic papilla. Linear regression was used to estimate the frequency gradient (b = 0.037 ± 0.012 ln Hz/% [b ± SEb]) and intercept (ln C, where C = 111 Hz) of the semilog plot of frequency versus cochlear position (in % distance from apex). From these estimates the octave distribution was calculated to be 18.7%/octave or 0.58 mm/octave. These quantities were not significantly different from those found in post hatch chickens. We conclude that the tonotopic map of the avian cochlea for CFs between 100 and 1700 Hz is stable and relatively mature from age E19 to post-hatch day 21 (P21). The most striking sign of immaturity in the E19 embryo is the limited range of high CFs. We offer the hypothesis that, between the ages of E19 and P21, improvements in middle ear admittance alone or in combination with functional maturation of the cochlear base may be the principal factors responsible for the appearance of adult-like high CF limits and not an apically shifting tonotopic map.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Audition
  • Aves
  • Basilar papilla
  • Biocytin
  • Development
  • Primary afferents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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