SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

The postnatal development of neuro-epithelial junctions inside the kitten cochlea has been investigated by electron microscopy, and correlated with previous electrophysiological results. Two main stages of development are described. During the first postnatal days, outer hair cells look very immature with only a few afferent endings adjoining them. The inner hair cells, on the other hand, are surrounded by numerous endings with mature afferent and efferent synapses. Thus, when the efferent olive-cochlear system begins to function during the first postnatal days, it is days, it is able to modify only inner hair cell responses. The second postnatal week is characterized by maturation of the large efferent endings below the outer hair cells. At the same time, direct efferent connections become sparce at the level of inner hair cells. The maturation of hearing, at the receptor level, seems to proceed in two steps, one related to inner hair cells and corresponding to a gross and primitive hearing, the other related to outer hair cells and corresponding to more precise and discriminative hearing abilities.