Analysis of cochlear mechanics.


A large number of experimental results on basilar-membrane vibration, cochlear microphonics, hair-cell receptor potentials, and spike rates in auditory nerve afferents are brought together to arrive at a comprehensive concept of cochlear mechanics, including hair-cell stimulation. Beginning with basilar-membrane tuning curves, we note that some of their most detailed determinations reveal a small notch and a secondary maximum above the best frequency in addition to sharp tuning. These features tend to become more prominent as the sharpness of tuning decreases. They cannot be accounted for on the assumption that the cochlear partition represents a simple second-order system consisting of distributed, elastically suspended mass. A higher order system is required. The cross-sectional structure of the partition suggests a fifth-order system made up of two sets of distributed resonators, one consisting essentially of the distributed mass of the organ of Corti supported by the stiffness of the basilar membrane, the other of the tectorial-membrane mass and its elastic attachment to the spiral limbus. The stiff stereocilia of the outer hair cells appear to serve as the main elastic coupling between the two resonator sets. Interaction of the two resonator sets is brought into evidence particularly clearly by weakening the coupling between the tectorial membrane and the organ of Corti. This can be achieved by manipulating the tectorial membrane with a microelectrode without affecting the endolymphatic potential. The partial decoupling leads to a transformation of a unimodal CM transfer function into a bimodal one. Except for the stiffness of the tectorial-membrane attachment to the limbus, the masses and stiffnesses involved in the two coupled resonator systems can be estimated independently on the basis of available measurements. Their application to an approximate computer model of the cochlea produced a cochlear frequency map consistent with experimental findings. The computer model, whose elements are in one-to-one correspondence with the gross elements of the cochlear partition, reproduces approximately the fundamental amplitude and phase characteristics of the measured basilar-membrane vibration. In particular, it reproduces the notch and the secondary maximum located above the best frequency. Our current computer model is linear and does not reproduce the known cochlear distortion products. Nevertheless, variation of those of its stiffness and resistance elements that correspond to the hair-cell stereocilia has allowed us to reproduce typical changes in basilar-membrane vibration, which accompany changes in sound intensity or cochlear deterioration.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


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@article{Zwislocki1986AnalysisOC, title={Analysis of cochlear mechanics.}, author={Jozef J Zwislocki}, journal={Hearing research}, year={1986}, volume={22}, pages={155-69} }