Frequency-threshold tuning curves were recorded in thousands of auditory-nerve fibers (ANFs) in chinchilla. Synthetic tuning curves with 21 characteristic frequencies (187 Hz to 19.04 kHz, spaced every 1/3 octave) were constructed by averaging individual tuning curves within 2/3-octave frequency bands. Tuning curves undergo a gradual transition in symmetry at characteristic frequencies (CFs) of 1 kHz and an abrupt change in shape at CFs of 3-4 kHz. For CFs ≤3 kHz, the lower limbs of tuning curves have similar slopes, about -18 dB/octave, but the upper limbs have slopes that become increasingly steep with increasing frequency and CF. For CFs >4 kHz, tuning curves normalized to the CF are nearly identical and consist of three segments. A tip segment, within 30-40 dB of CF threshold, has lower- and upper-limb slopes of -60 and +120 dB/octave, respectively, and is flanked by a low-frequency ("tail") segment, with shallow slope, and a terminal high-frequency segment with very steep slope (several hundreds of dB/octave). The tuning curves of fibers innervating basal cochlear sites closely resemble basilar-membrane tuning curves computed with low isovelocity criteria. At the apex of the chinchilla cochlea, frequency tuning is substantially sharper for ANFs than for available recordings of organ of Corti vibrations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas