Spiral ganglion neurones: an overview of morphology, firing behaviour, ionic channels and function
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The spiral ganglion cells provide the afferent innervation of the hair cells of the organ of Corti. Ninety-five percent of these cells (termed type I spiral ganglion neurones) are in synaptic contact with the inner hair cells, whereas about 5% of them are type II cells, which are responsible for the sensory innervation of the outer hair cells. To understand the function of the spiral ganglion neurones, it is important to explore their membrane properties, understand their activity patterns and describe the variety of ionic channels determining their behaviour. In this review, a brief description is given of the various experimental methods that allow the investigation of the spiral ganglion cells, followed by the discussion of their action potential firing patterns and ionic conductances. The presence, distribution and significance of the K+ currents of the spiral ganglion cells are specifically addressed, along with the introduction of the putative subunit compositions of the relevant voltage-gated K+ channels.