Feed-forward and feed-backward amplification model from cochlear cytoarchitecture: an interspecies comparison.
ABSTRACT: The high sensitivity and wide bandwidth of mammalian hearing are thought to derive from an active process involving the somatic and hair-bundle motility of the thousands of outer hair cells uniquely found in mammalian cochleae. To better understand this, a biophysical three-dimensional cochlear fluid model was developed for gerbil, chinchilla, cat, and human, featuring an active "push-pull" cochlear amplifier mechanism based on the cytoarchitecture of the organ of Corti and using the time-averaged Lagrangian method. Cochlear responses are simulated and compared with in vivo physiological measurements for the basilar membrane (BM) velocity, V(BM), frequency tuning of the BM vibration, and Q?? values representing the sharpness of the cochlear tuning curves. The V(BM) simulation results for gerbil and chinchilla are consistent with in vivo cochlea measurements. Simulated mechanical tuning curves based on maintaining a constant V(BM) value agree with neural-tuning threshold measurements better than those based on a constant displacement value, which implies that the inner hair cells are more sensitive to V(BM) than to BM displacement. The Q?? values of the V(BM) tuning curve agree well with those of cochlear neurons across species, and appear to be related in part to the width of the basilar membrane.
Project description:The micromechanical mechanisms that underpin tuning and dynamic range compression in the mammalian inner ear are fundamental to hearing, but poorly understood. Here, we present new, high-resolution optical measurements that directly map sound-evoked vibrations on to anatomical structures in the intact, living gerbil cochlea. The largest vibrations occur in a tightly delineated hotspot centering near the interface between the Deiters' and outer hair cells. Hotspot vibrations are less sharply tuned, but more nonlinear, than basilar membrane vibrations, and behave non-monotonically (exhibiting hyper-compression) near their characteristic frequency. Amplitude and phase differences between hotspot and basilar membrane responses depend on both frequency and measurement angle, and indicate that hotspot vibrations involve longitudinal motion. We hypothesize that structural coupling between the Deiters' and outer hair cells funnels sound-evoked motion into the hotspot region, under the control of the outer hair cells, to optimize cochlear tuning and compression.
Project description:The cochlea performs frequency analysis and amplification of sounds. The graded stiffness of the basilar membrane along the cochlear length underlies the frequency-location relationship of the mammalian cochlea. The somatic motility of outer hair cell is central for cochlear amplification. Despite two to three orders of magnitude change in the basilar membrane stiffness, the force capacity of the outer hair cell's somatic motility, is nearly invariant over the cochlear length. It is puzzling how actuators with a constant force capacity can operate under such a wide stiffness range. We hypothesize that the organ of Corti sets the mechanical conditions so that the outer hair cell's somatic motility effectively interacts with the media of traveling waves-the basilar membrane and the tectorial membrane. To test this hypothesis, a computational model of the gerbil cochlea was developed that incorporates organ of Corti structural mechanics, cochlear fluid dynamics, and hair cell electro-physiology. The model simulations showed that the micro-mechanical responses of the organ of Corti are different along the cochlear length. For example, the top surface of the organ of Corti vibrated more than the bottom surface at the basal (high frequency) location, but the amplitude ratio was reversed at the apical (low frequency) location. Unlike the basilar membrane stiffness varying by a factor of 1700 along the cochlear length, the stiffness of the organ of Corti complex felt by the outer hair cell remained between 1.5 and 0.4 times the outer hair cell stiffness. The Y-shaped structure in the organ of Corti formed by outer hair cell, Deiters cell and its phalange was the primary determinant of the elastic reactance imposed on the outer hair cells. The stiffness and geometry of the Deiters cell and its phalange affected cochlear amplification differently depending on the location.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>The exquisite sensitivity and frequency discrimination of mammalian hearing underlie the ability to understand complex speech in noise. This requires force generation by cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs) to amplify the basilar membrane traveling wave; however, it is unclear how amplification is achieved with sharp frequency tuning. Here we investigated the origin of tuning by measuring sound-induced 2-D vibrations within the mouse organ of Corti in vivo Our goal was to determine the transfer function relating the radial shear between the structures that deflect the OHC bundle, the tectorial membrane and reticular lamina, to the transverse motion of the basilar membrane. We found that, after normalizing their responses to the vibration of the basilar membrane, the radial vibrations of the tectorial membrane and reticular lamina were tuned. The radial tuning peaked at a higher frequency than transverse basilar membrane tuning in the passive, postmortem condition. The radial tuning was similar in dead mice, indicating that this reflected passive, not active, mechanics. These findings were exaggerated in Tecta(C1509G/C1509G) mice, where the tectorial membrane is detached from OHC stereocilia, arguing that the tuning of radial vibrations within the hair cell epithelium is distinct from tectorial membrane tuning. Together, these results reveal a passive, frequency-dependent contribution to cochlear filtering that is independent of basilar membrane filtering. These data argue that passive mechanics within the organ of Corti sharpen frequency selectivity by defining which OHCs enhance the vibration of the basilar membrane, thereby tuning the gain of cochlear amplification.<h4>Significance statement</h4>Outer hair cells amplify the traveling wave within the mammalian cochlea. The resultant gain and frequency sharpening are necessary for speech discrimination, particularly in the presence of background noise. Here we measured the 2-D motion of the organ of Corti in mice and found that the structures that stimulate the outer hair cell stereocilia, the tectorial membrane and reticular lamina, were sharply tuned in the radial direction. Radial tuning was similar in dead mice and in mice lacking a tectorial membrane. This suggests that radial tuning comes from passive mechanics within the hair cell epithelium, and that these mechanics, at least in part, may tune the gain of cochlear amplification.
Project description:Auditory sensory outer hair cells are thought to amplify sound-induced basilar membrane vibration through a feedback mechanism to enhance hearing sensitivity. For optimal amplification, the outer hair cell-generated force must act on the basilar membrane at an appropriate time at every cycle. However, the temporal relationship between the outer hair cell-driven reticular lamina vibration and the basilar membrane vibration remains unclear. By measuring sub-nanometer vibrations directly from outer hair cells using a custom-built heterodyne low-coherence interferometer, we demonstrate in living gerbil cochleae that the reticular lamina vibration occurs after, not before, the basilar membrane vibration. Both tone- and click-induced responses indicate that the reticular lamina and basilar membrane vibrate in opposite directions at the cochlear base and they oscillate in phase near the best-frequency location. Our results suggest that outer hair cells enhance hearing sensitivity through a global hydromechanical mechanism, rather than through a local mechanical feedback as commonly supposed.
Project description:The mammalian basilar membrane (BM) consists of two collagen-fiber layers responsible for the frequency-to-place tonotopic mapping in the cochlea, which together form a flat beam over at least part of the BM width. The mechanics of hearing in rodents such as gerbil pose a challenge to our understanding of the cochlea, however, because for gerbil the two layers separate to form a pronounced arch over the remaining BM width. Moreover, the thickness and total width normally thought to determine the local stiffness, and tonotopic mapping in turn, change little along the cochlear length. A nonlinear analysis of a newly developed model, incorporating flat upper and arched lower fiber layers connected by ground substance, explains the initial plateau and subsequent quadratic increase found in measured stiffness vs. deflection curves under point loading, while for pressure loading the model accurately predicts the tonotopic mapping. The model also has applicability to understanding cochlear development and to interpreting evolutionary changes in mammalian hearing.
Project description:Conceptualizations of mammalian cochlear mechanics are based on basilar-membrane (BM) traveling waves that scale with frequency along the length of the cochlea, are amplified by outer hair cells (OHCs), and excite inner hair cells and auditory-nerve (AN) fibers in a simple way. However, recent experimental work has shown medial-olivocochlear (MOC) inhibition of AN responses to clicks that do not fit with this picture. To test whether this AN-initial-peak (ANIP) inhibition might result from hitherto unrecognized aspects of the traveling-wave or MOC-evoked inhibition, MOC effects on BM responses to clicks in the basal turns of guinea pig and chinchilla cochleae were measured. MOC stimulation inhibited BM click responses in a time and level dependent manner. Inhibition was not seen during the first half-cycle of the responses, but built up gradually, and ultimately increased the responses' decay rates. MOC stimulation also produced small phase leads in the response wave forms, but had little effect on the instantaneous frequency or the waxing and waning of the responses. These data, plus recent AN data, support the hypothesis that the MOC-evoked inhibitions of the traveling wave and of the ANIP response are separate phenomena, and indicate that the OHCs can affect at least two separate modes of excitation in the mammalian cochlea.
Project description:In this article, a nonlinear mathematical model is developed based on the physiology of the cochlea of the guinea pig. The three-dimensional intracochlear fluid dynamics are coupled to a micromechanical model of the organ of Corti and to electrical potentials in the cochlear ducts and outer hair cells (OHC). OHC somatic electromotility is modeled by linearized piezoelectric relations whereas the OHC hair-bundle mechanoelectrical transduction current is modeled as a nonlinear function of the hair-bundle deflection. The steady-state response of the cochlea to a single tone is simulated in the frequency domain using an alternating frequency time scheme. Compressive nonlinearity, harmonic distortion, and DC shift on the basilar membrane (BM), tectorial membrane (TM), and OHC potentials are predicted using a single set of parameters. The predictions of the model are verified by comparing simulations to available in vivo experimental data for basal cochlear mechanics. In particular, the model predicts more amplification on the reticular lamina (RL) side of the cochlear partition than on the BM, which replicates recent measurements. Moreover, small harmonic distortion and DC shifts are predicted on the BM, whereas more significant harmonic distortion and DC shifts are predicted in the RL and TM displacements and in the OHC potentials.
Project description:The field of cochlear mechanics has been undergoing a revolution due to recent findings made possible by advancements in measurement techniques. While it has long been assumed that basilar-membrane (BM) motion is the most important determinant of sound transduction by the inner hair cells (IHCs), it turns out that other parts of the sensory epithelium closer to the IHCs, such as the reticular lamina (RL), move with significantly greater amplitude for weaker sounds. It has not been established how these findings are related to the complex cytoarchitecture of the organ of Corti between the BM and RL, which is composed of a lattice of asymmetric Y-shaped elements, each consisting of a basally slanted outer hair cell (OHC), an apically slanted phalangeal process (PhP), and a supporting Deiters' cell (DC). Here, a computational model of the mouse cochlea supports the hypothesis that the OHC micromotors require this Y-shaped geometry for their contribution to the exquisite sensitivity and frequency selectivity of the mammalian cochlea. By varying only the OHC gain parameter, the model can reproduce measurements of BM and RL gain and tuning for a variety of input sound levels. Malformations such as reversing the orientations of the OHCs and PhPs or removing the PhPs altogether greatly reduce the effectiveness of the OHC motors. These results imply that the DCs and PhPs must be properly accounted for in emerging OHC regeneration therapies.
Project description: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.
Project description:To understand how the inner ear-generated sound, i.e., otoacoustic emission, exits the cochlea, we created a sound source electrically in the second turn and measured basilar membrane vibrations at two longitudinal locations in the first turn in living gerbil cochleae using a laser interferometer. For a given longitudinal location, electrically evoked basilar membrane vibrations showed the same tuning and phase lag as those induced by sounds. For a given frequency, the phase measured at a basal location led that at a more apical location, indicating that either an electrical or an acoustical stimulus evoked a forward travelling wave. Under postmortem conditions, the electrically evoked emissions showed no significant change while the basilar membrane vibration nearly disappeared. The current data indicate that basilar membrane vibration was not involved in the backward propagation of otoacoustic emissions and that sounds exit the cochlea probably through alternative media, such as cochlear fluids.