Low-frequency suppression of auditory nerve responses to characteristic frequency tones

Andrei N. Temchin, Nola C. Rich, Mario A. Ruggero*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The effects of low-frequency (50, 100, 200 and 400 Hz) 'suppressor' tones on responses to moderate-level characteristic frequency (CF) tones were measured in chinchilla auditory nerve fibers. Two-tone interactions were evident at suppressor intensities of 70-100 dB SPL. In this range, the average response rate decreased as a function of increasing suppressor level and the instantaneous response rate was modulated periodically at suppression threshold, the phase of suppression typically coincided with basilar membrane displacement toward scala tympani, regardless of CF. At higher suppressor levels, two suppression maxima coexisted, synchronous with peak basilar membrane displacement toward scala tympani and scala vestibuli modulation and rate-suppression thresholds did not vary as a function of spontaneous activity and were only minimally correlated with fiber sensitivity. Except for fibers with CF < 1 kHz, modulation and rate-suppression thresholds were lower than rate and phase-locking thresholds for the suppressor tones presented alone. In the case of high-CF fibers with low spontaneous activity, excitation thresholds could exceed suppression thresholds by more than 30 dB. The strength of modulation decreased systematically with increasing suppressor frequency. For a given suppressor frequency, modulation was strongest in high-CF fibers and weakest in low-CF fibers. The present findings strongly support the notion that low-frequency suppression in auditory nerve fibers largely reflects an underlying basilar membrane phenomenon closely related to compressive non-linearity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-56
Number of pages28
JournalHearing research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Auditory nerve
  • Basilar membrane
  • Biasing
  • Chinchilla
  • Cochlea
  • Inner hair cells
  • Modulation
  • Rate suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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