Type I spiral ganglion neurons have a unique role relative to other sensory afferents because, as a single population, they must convey the richness, complexity, and precision of auditory information as they shape signals transmitted to the brain. To understand better the sophistication of spiral ganglion response properties, we compared somatic whole-cell current-clamp recordings from basal and apical neurons obtained during the first 2 postnatal weeks from CBA/CaJ mice. We found that during this developmental time period neuron response properties changed from uniformly excitable to differentially plastic. Low-frequency, apical and high-frequency basal neurons at postnatal day 1 (P1)-P3 were predominantly slowly accommodating (SA), firing at low thresholds with little alteration in accommodation response mode induced by changes in resting membrane potential (RMP) or added neurotrophin-3 (NT-3). In contrast, P10 -P14 apical and basal neurons were predominately rapidly accommodating (RA), had higher firing thresholds, and responded to elevation of RMP and added NT-3 by transitioning to the SA category without affecting the instantaneous firing rate. Therefore, older neurons appeared to be uniformly less excitable under baseline conditions yet displayed a previously unrecognized capacity to change response modes dynamically within a remarkably stable accommodation framework. Because the soma is interposed in the signal conduction pathway, these specializations can potentially lead to shaping and filtering of the transmitted signal. These results suggest that spiral ganglion neurons possess electrophysiological mechanisms that enable them to adapt their response properties to the characteristics of incoming stimuli and thus have the capacity to encode a wide spectrum of auditory information.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Membrane potential
- Spiral ganglion