The efferent crossed olivocochlear bundle (COCB) was transected in the brain stem of the chinchilla, and the animals sacrificed 7 to 96 days later. Electron microscopy revealed that all the large efferent nerve endings on outer hair cells in the basalmost 2 mm (round window region) of the cochlea had degenerated, 87.5% in the remainder of the first turn, 70% in the second turn and 43% in the third turn. Only a few degenerating nerve fibres were seen in the medial spiral tract (inner spiral and tunnel bundles) of the experimental animals. Nerve fibers were counted in the medial spiral tracts of the cochleas of control animals as well as in those animals whose COCB had been transected. There were considerable individual variations in the fiber numbers, and statistical analysis showed no significant difference between the numbers of nerve fibers in normal and experimental animals.
The cochlear microphonics (CM) and nerve action potentials (AP) of acute animals were assessed before and after COCB section. The CM and AP of the chronic experimental animals were compared with responses from normals. Overall, no changes in a physiological response of the anesthetized chinchilla could be attributed to complete section of the COCB.