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Manley, Geoffrey A.; Gleich, Otto; Kaiser, Alexander; Brix, Jutta (1989): Functional differentiation of sensory cells in the avian auditory periphery. In: Journal of Comparative Physiology A, Vol. 164, No. 3: pp. 289-296
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Mammals and birds have independently developed different populations of sensory cells grouped across the width of their auditory papillae. Although in mammals there is clear evidence for disparate functions for the two hair-cell populations, the different anatomical pattern in birds has made comparisons difficult. In two species of birds, we have used single-fibre staining techniques to trace physiologically-characterized primary auditory nerve fibres to their peripheral synapses. As in mammals, acoustically-active afferent fibres of these birds innervate exclusively the neurally-lying group of hair cells in a 1∶1 relationship, suggesting important parallels in the functional organization of the auditory papillae in these two vertebrate classes. In addition, we found a strong trend of the threshold to acoustic stimuli at the characteristic frequency across the width of the avian papilla.