Two-tone suppression in inner hair cell responses

M. A. Cheatham*, P. Dallos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In an attempt to characterize certain aspects of two-tone suppression (2TS), ac receptor potentials were recorded from mammalian inner hair cells (IHC) in the third turn of the guinea pig cochlea. By comparing magnitude and phase changes occurring during suppression with predictions made on the basis of level-dependent responses to single-tone inputs, it is possible to determine whether 2TS is mimicked by simply attenuating stimulus intensity. Results indicate that the effects of suppression are not simulated by simple input attenuation for low probe levels which produce responses below saturation. In these situations, the suppressor causes a decrease in the magnitude of the ac receptor potential with the largest deviations measured at the characteristic frequency (CF) of the cell. Thus, frequency response functions become broader. Response phase goes through a lag/lead transition at CF, also opposite to the results expected by simply decreasing input to the cell. At higher probe levels, within the saturation region, the magnitude reductions produced during 2TS are largest for stimulus frequencies well below and well above CF. This effect partially reverses the broadening of frequency response functions seen at moderate intensities with possible benefits for the processing of complex stimuli at conversational levels. Although the magnitude data obtained at high probe levels are consistent with the attenuation hypothesis, the companion phase measures did not show the expected lead/lag transition through CF since phase changes were generally lags. Consequently, the high-level suppression data suggest that 2TS may reduce input to the IHC but in a way which is not equivalent to the attenuation of a single-input stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-196
Number of pages10
JournalHearing research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1989


  • Cochlea
  • Hair cell
  • Receptor potentials
  • Two-tone suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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