In whole-mount preparations of the organ of Corti nerve fibers are sometimes seen peripheral to the third-row outer hair cells where they appear to wander among the Hensen cells. These fibers were studied in the guinea pig by both light and electron microscopy. In the upper second, third and fourth cochlear turns nerve fibers were seen between and on the peripheral side of the third-row Deiters cells as well as in the floor of the outer tunnel space. They were not found in the intercellular spaces between the Hensen cells. These nerve fibers are continuous with the spiral efferent fibers beneath the outer hair cells. Also their ultrastructural and histochemical characteristics indicate that they are efferent neural elements. This identification was confirmed by the finding that they degenerate following interruption of the olivo-cochlear bundle in the brain stem.
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