Spontaneous activity and frequency threshold tuning curves were studied in thousands of auditory nerve fibers in chinchilla. The frequency distribution of spontaneous activity rates is strongly bimodal for auditory nerve fibers with characteristic frequency <3 kHz but only mildly bimodal for the entire sample. Spontaneous activity rates and thresholds at the characteristic frequency are inversely related. Auditory-nerve fibers with low spontaneous rate have tuning curves with lower tip-to-tail ratios and more sharply tuned tips than the tuning curves of fibers with high spontaneous rates. It is shown here that this dependence of tuning on spontaneous rates is consistent with a previously unnoticed nonmonotonic dependence on iso-velocity criterion of the frequency tuning of basilar membrane vibrations.
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