In the guinea pig, during general hypoxia produced by shutoff of respiratory air, oxygen-sensitive microelectrodes detect a decrease in oxygen concentration in the fluids of the tunnel of Corti before detecting a decrease in scala media oxygen concentration. The present experiments were designed to measure the cochlear microphonic (CM) potential generated by the organ of Corti when vibrated by a microprobe on the basilar membrane along with the oxygen decline in both tunnel and scala media to see upon which source of oxygen CM is dependent. Because oxygen concentration in both areas can decrease considerably before CM is affected, the recovery following a brief period of hypoxia is a more accurate measure. Because CM starts a recovery before scala media oxygen, the positive endolymphatic potential (EP) was also measured to determine its role in the generation of CM. Our interpretation of the course of events is that CM is partially dependent upon oxygen supplied to the extracellular spaces of the organ of Corti by the spiral vessels and upon EP that, itself, is dependent upon several factors. The data indicate that EP plays a more complex role than that of providing a current flow for modulation by a resistance varying with vibration.
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