Rate-intensity-functions of pigeon auditory primary afferents

Claus Peter Richter*, Sven Heynert, Rainer Klinke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Rate-intensity-functions (RI-functions) were determined in 150 primary auditory afferents in anaesthetized pigeon. Acoustic stimulation was either at characteristic frequency (CF) or half an octave below or above CF. Stimulated at CF, 37% of the fibres showed saturating RI-functions, whereas 50% showed sloping and 13% straight RI-functions. In the sloping RI-functions, a bend was found about 20 dB above the fibres' thresholds. For non-CF stimuli, the general shape of the RI-functions remained constant. However, the maximum evoked discharge rates were lower for frequencies below CF and higher for frequencies above CF. The data show that a population of neurones, the sloping and straight ones, code stimulus intensities over a wide intensity range. In combination with the scatter of the thresholds, intensity ranges greater than 100 dB are conceivable. It was concluded that the nonlinearities found in pigeon are not caused by basilar membrane (BM) mechanics, rather an origin at the hair cell-afferent nerve fibre system has to be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalHearing research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1995


  • Auditory nerve fibre
  • Nonlinearity
  • Pigeon
  • Rate-intensity function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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