Scanning Microscopy


The developmental time scale of the cochlea varies from species to species. We investigate here the condition of the neonatal cochlea in the chinchilla, a species increasingly used in auditory research. We have examined the morphology of cochlear hair cells using scanning microscopy, and the development of auditory function during the first postnatal month by monitoring auditory brainstem evoked responses (ABR). We find that although there were some outer hair cell kinocilia present in middle and apical areas, the hair cells otherwise were mature at 24 hours after birth. Furthermore, cochlear auditory thresholds are adult-like at birth. However, whilst there was little change in ABR thresholds over one month, there is evidence of continued maturation of the central auditory system as shown by the shortening of the PI-PS latency from 9.1 ms to 7. 7 ms.

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