Micromechanical responses to tones in the auditory fovea of the greater mustached bat's cochlea

I. J. Russell, M. Kössl

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    An extended region of the greater mustached bat's cochlea, the sparsely innervated (SI) zone, is located just basally to the frequency place of the dominant 61-kHz component of the echolocation signal (CF2). Anatomic adaptations in the SI zone are thought to provide the basis for cochlear resonance to the CF2 echoes and for the extremely sharp tuning throughout the auditory system that allows these bats to detect Doppler shifts in the echoes caused by insect wing beat. We measured basilar membrane (BM) displacements in the SI zone with a laser interferometer and recorded acoustic distortion products at the ear drum at frequencies represented in the SI zone. The basilar membrane in the SI region was tuned both to its characteristic frequency (62-72 kHz) and to the resonance frequency (61-62 kHz). With increasing stimulus levels, the displacement growth functions are compressive curves with initial slopes close to unity, and their properties are consistent with the mammalian cochlear amplifier working at high sound frequencies. The sharp basilar membrane resonance is associated with a phase lag of 180°and with a shift of the peak resonance to lower frequencies for high stimulus levels. Within the range of the resonance, the distortion product otoacoustic emissions, which have been attributed to the resonance of the tectorial membrane in the SI region, are associated with an abrupt phase change of 360°. It is proposed that a standing wave resonance of the tectorial membrane drives the BM in the SI region and that the outer hair cells enhance, fine tune, and control the resonance. In the SI region, cochlear micromechanics appear to be able to work in two different modes: a conventional traveling wave leads to shear displacement between basilar and tectorial membrane and to neuronal excitation for 62-70 kHz. In addition, the SI region responds to 61-62 kHz with a resonance based on standing waves and thus preprocesses signals which are represented more apically in the CF2 region of the cochlea.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)676-686
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


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