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Force transmission in the organ of Corti micromachine.


ABSTRACT: Auditory discrimination is limited by the performance of the cochlea whose acute sensitivity and frequency tuning are underpinned by electromechanical feedback from the outer hair cells. Two processes may underlie this feedback: voltage-driven contractility of the outer hair cell body and active motion of the hair bundle. Either process must exert its mechanical effect via deformation of the organ of Corti, a complex assembly of sensory and supporting cells riding on the basilar membrane. Using finite element analysis, we present a three-dimensional model to illustrate deformation of the organ of Corti by the two active processes. The model used available measurements of the properties of structural components in low-frequency and high-frequency regions of the rodent cochlea. The simulations agreed well with measurements of the cochlear partition stiffness, the longitudinal space constant for point deflection, and the deformation of the organ of Corti for current injection, as well as displaying a 20-fold increase in passive resonant frequency from apex to base. The radial stiffness of the tectorial membrane attachment was found to be a crucial element in the mechanical feedback. Despite a substantial difference in the maximum force generated by hair bundle and somatic motility, the two mechanisms induced comparable amplitudes of motion of the basilar membrane but differed in the polarity of their feedback on hair bundle position. Compared to the hair bundle motor, the somatic motor was more effective in deforming the organ of Corti than in displacing the basilar membrane.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC2884234 | BioStudies |

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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