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Contact between the tectorial membrane and the cochlear sensory hairs in the human and the monkey


The surface structure of the organ of Corti and the overlying tectorial membrane were studied in human and monkey cochleas under a scanning electron microscope.

Imprints of small dots, indicating contact between the sensory hair tips and the tectorial membrane, were clearly seen in the outer hair cells. Imprints had a W shape composed of lines of small dots.

In the human, at the base of the W, the dots were arranged in 2 or 3 lines in the lower cochlear turn and several lines in the upper turn. This pattern of dots corresponds to the structural pattern of stereocilia of the outer sensory cell; that is, the longest hairs were arranged in several lines at the base of the W and especially numerous in the upper cochlear turn. In the upper turn the lateral margin of the tectorial membrane was perforated. Imprints of the 3rd or 4th row of outer sensory cell hairs were found at the rim of these perforations.

No imprints were found corresponding to the inner sensory cell hairs. Round aggregations of small granules and short strands, which were distributed along Hensen's stripe in some parts of the human cochlea, suggest the presence of an indirect connection between the tectorial membrane and the inner sensory cell region.

Fine grooves, clearly seen at the inner sensory cell region of the monkey cochlea, indicate a type of connection between the tectorial membrane and the sensory hair tips other than by insertion. Findings indicating contact were seen more consistently in the lower turn of the monkey.

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This study was partly supported by U.S.P.H.S. Research Grant No. 10412-03. Mr. Dominic W. Hughes kindly helped to prepare the English manuscript

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Hoshino, T. Contact between the tectorial membrane and the cochlear sensory hairs in the human and the monkey. Arch Otorhinolaryngol 217, 53–60 (1977).

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Key words

  • Cochlea
  • Tectorial membrane
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Human and monkey