Psychophysical tuning curves and auditory thresholds after hair cell damage in the chinchilla

Allen Ryan, Peter Dallos, Therese McGee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Chinchillas were treated with kanamycin sulfate (150–200 mg/kg/day) to produce high-frequency hearing loss extending to about 4.0 kHz. Thresholds and psychophysical tuning curves (PTCs) were obtained before and after treatment, utilizing a shuttlebox avoidance procedure, and cochlear hair cells were evaluated under phase contrast microscopy. Hair cell loss resulting from kanamycin treatment varied from restricted lesions of the outer hair cells (OHCs) in the cochlear base, with no loss of inner hair cells (IHCs), to more extensive lesions involving both OHCs and IHCs. Threshold shift of at least 40 dB was always associated with OHC loss. PTCs obtained from frequency regions exhibiting 40–50 dB of threshold shift were normal in shape. With threshold shift in excess of 50 dB, PTCs were progressively distorted, with truncation of the tip segment and in some cases increased sensitivity of the tail segment. The results suggest that the threshold of optimally functional IHCs after kanamycin-induced OHC loss is about 40 dB higher than normal. Threshold shift in excess of 40 dB may represent IHC damage. IHCs are capable of transducing the fine-frequency information necessary for generating normally sharp PTCs in the absence of OHCs. However, with threshold shift in excess of approximately 50 dB, this frequency resolution is increasingly compromised.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)370-378
Number of pages9
Journaljournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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