Using this model, we investigated the implications of two mechanisms underlying the auditory neuropathy known as hidden hearing loss, namely synaptopathy and myelinopathy, on sound-evoked spike generation and timing in the peripheral axons of type I spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). The model is a reduced biophysical model consisting of a population of myelinated SGN axonal fibers whose firing activity is driven by a previously developed, well accepted model for cochlear sound processing. Using the model, we investigated how synapse loss (synaptopathy) or disruption of myelin organization (myelinopathy) affected spike generation on the axons and the profile of the compound action potential (CAP) signal computed from the spike activity. Synaptopathy and myelinopathy were implemented by removing synapses and by varying the position of SGN heminodes (the nodal structures closest to the inner hair cell synapse where action potentials are generated), respectively. Model results showed that heminode disruption caused decreased amplitude and increased latency of sound-evoked CAPs. In addition, significant elongation of the initial axon segment caused spike generation failure leading to decreased spiking probability. In contrast, synaptopathy, solely decreased probability of firing, subsequently decreasing CAP peak amplitude without affecting its latency, similar to observations in noise exposed animals. Model results reveal the disruptive effect of synaptopathy or myelinopathy on neural activity in the peripheral auditory system that may contribute to perceptual deficits.
Model Concept(s): Axonal Action Potentials