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The electrical response from the cochlea of a cat which had previously been denervated by intracranial crushing of the auditory nerve was submitted to a lengthy study, the results of which may be summarized as follows:-
The responses to acoustical stimulation derived from electrodes placed on the round window margin and in the chin muscles were studied by means of an amplifier and cathode ray oscillograph, in the usual way. Transient stimuli whose polarity could be reversed were employed to demonstrate the absence of any electrical component of neural origin such as is invariably present in a normal ear. In all other respects, however, the responses were unaffected, and both threshold contours (the so-called “electrical audiogram”) and equal response contours for approximately pure-tone stimuli demonstrated close comparability with those for normal ears. Harmonic analysis of the cochlear response yielded results departing from the normal only in such respects as would be expected in view of the complete absence of nervous component in the analysed wave.
From these data, it is argued that this animal presented a case in which normal electrical responses were obtained from the peripheral organ, despite virtually complete degeneration of the auditory nerve, and, it follows, complete unilateral deafness. Subsequent histological examination confirmed these observations, and it is urged, therefore, that the validity of the view that the cochlear response provides an index of the hearing ability of an animal, as is sometimes stated, is open to question. Additionally, this experiment finally discredits the hypothesis that the cochlear response itself is, in any sense, neural in origin; it further indicates the necessity for caution in the interpretation of results obtained from normal ears, where the cochlear response, however derived, is in some degree adulterated by the simultaneous presence of an action potential component.