, Volume 234, Issue 2, pp 213-218

Cochlear mechanisms at low frequencies in the guinea pig

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The study of the cochlear microphonic and of the intracochlear sound pressure in guinea pigs shows that the behavior of the cochlea at very low frequencies is controlled by three discrete elements: (a) the compliance of the whole basilar membrane; (b) the acoustic resistance of the helicotrema; (c) the compliance of the round window. The part of each of these elements has been established. The compliance of the whole basilar membrane produces constant amplitudes at frequencies lower than the minimum frequency at which a travelling wave is present (130 Hz). In fact, this constant amplitude range is limited by connection of the two cochlear scalae through the helicotrema resistance. This protecting mechanism produces an attenuation slope for frequencies lower than 80 Hz. The compliance of the round window does not modify the slope of the cochlear microphonic, but it induces a constant sound pressure in scala tympani up to 200 Hz. Decreasing of the sound pressure in the scala vestibuli is, therefore, limited for frequencies less than 30 Hz by this constant value of the sound pressure in scala tympani.

Presented at the 18th Workshop on Inner Ear Biology in Montpellier/La Grande Motte, September 14–16, 1981