Cochlear Inner and Outer Hair Cells: Functional Differences

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Science  28 Jul 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4046, pp. 356-358
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4046.356


The cochlear microphonic response was measured with differential electrodes from the first and third cochlear turns of normal guinea pigs and those treated with the ototoxic drug kanamycin. Histological controls showed that the outer hair cells in treated animals were missing over the basal half of the damaged cochleas, while the inner hair cells were intact. Measurements are consistent with the hypothesis that the potentials produced by inner hair cells are proportional to the velocity of the basilar membrane, whereas potentials generated by outer hair cells (which dominate the response of normal cochleas) are proportional displacement of the basilar membrane.