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Frequency map for the human cochlear spiral ganglion: implications for cochlear implants.

  • Stakhovskaya, Olga
  • Sridhar, Divya
  • Bonham, Ben H
  • Leake, Patricia A
Published Article
Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2007
PMID: 17318276


The goals of this study were to derive a frequency-position function for the human cochlear spiral ganglion (SG) to correlate represented frequency along the organ of Corti (OC) to location along the SG, to determine the range of individual variability, and to calculate an "average" frequency map (based on the trajectories of the dendrites of the SG cells). For both OC and SG frequency maps, a potentially important limitation is that accurate estimates of cochlear place frequency based upon the Greenwood function require knowledge of the total OC or SG length, which cannot be determined in most temporal bone and imaging studies. Therefore, an additional goal of this study was to evaluate a simple metric, basal coil diameter that might be utilized to estimate OC and SG length. Cadaver cochleae (n = 9) were fixed <24 h postmortem, stained with osmium tetroxide, microdissected, decalcified briefly, embedded in epoxy resin, and examined in surface preparations. In digital images, the OC and SG were measured, and the radial nerve fiber trajectories were traced to define a series of frequency-matched coordinates along the two structures. Images of the cochlear turns were reconstructed and measurements of basal turn diameter were made and correlated with OC and SG measurements. The data obtained provide a mathematical function for relating represented frequency along the OC to that of the SG. Results showed that whereas the distance along the OC that corresponds to a critical bandwidth is assumed to be constant throughout the cochlea, estimated critical band distance in the SG varies significantly along the spiral. Additional findings suggest that measurements of basal coil diameter in preoperative images may allow prediction of OC/SG length and estimation of the insertion depth required to reach specific angles of rotation and frequencies. Results also indicate that OC and SG percentage length expressed as a function of rotation angle from the round window is fairly constant across subjects. The implications of these findings for the design and surgical insertion of cochlear implants are discussed.

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