Mechanical Coupling between Inner and Outer Hair Cells in the Mammalian Cochlea
The mammalian cochlea is often described as a mechanical frequency analyzer in which the basilar membrane acts as a bank of mechanical filters tuned to different frequencies. The inner hair cells (IHC) in such descriptions passively respond to the displacement or velocity of the basilar membrane and pass the acoustic information on to the auditory nerve. The outer hair cells (OHC) are now believed to act as electromechanical amplifiers and serve to increase the movement of the basilar membrane over a limited frequency range. Mountain et al. (1983) proposed that the output of the mechanical-to-electrical transduction process in the OHC drives an electrical-to-mechanical transduction process which is, in turn, coupled back to the motion of the basilar and tectorial membranes. This feedback system is inherently nonlinear due to the limited dynamic range of the forward transduction process.
KeywordsHair Cell Sound Pressure Level Receptor Potential Outer Hair Cell Basilar Membrane
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