Nonlinear Interactions in the Mechanical Response of the Cochlea to Two-Tone Stimuli

  • Luis Robles
  • Mario A. Ruggero
  • Nola C. Rich
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA)


The reduction of the auditory response to one tone due to the simultaneous presence of a second tone is known as two-tone suppression. This nonlinear cochlear response was first described by Galambos and Davis (1944) in electrophysiological recordings from the cat auditory nerve. Since then two-tone suppression has been extensively studied in cochlear afferents of mammals (Nomoto et al., 1964; Kiang et al., 1965; Hind et al., 1967; Sachs and Kiang, 1968) and also of amphibia (Frischkopf and Goldstein, 1963; Feng et al., 1975), birds (Sachs et al., 1974) and reptiles (Holton and Weiss, 1978). Two-tone suppression seems to be demonstrable in all well-studied cochlear fibers, for suppressors at frequencies on both sides of the tuning curve (Sachs and Kiang, 1968; Sachs, 1969; Abbas and Sachs, 1976), and has also been observed in guinea pig inner hair cells (Sellick and Russell, 1979).


Hair Cell Auditory Nerve Squirrel Monkey Basilar Membrane Tuning Curve 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbas, P.J. and Sachs, M.B. (1976) Two-tone suppression in auditory-nerve fibers: Extension of a stimulus-response relationship. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 59, 112–122.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Costalupes, J.A., Rich, N.C. and Ruggero, M.A. (1987) Effects of excitatory and non-excitatory suppresor tones on two-tone rate suppression in auditory nerve fibers. Hear. Res. 26, 155–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Delgutte, B. (1986) Two-tone rate suppression in auditory nerve fibers: Variations with suppressor level and frequency. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol., Abstr. 9th Midwinter Meet., p. 65.Google Scholar
  4. Deng, L. and Geisler, C.D. (1985) Changes in the phase of excitor-tone responses in cat auditory-nerve fibers by suppressor tones and fatigue. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 78, 1633–1643.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Feng, A.S., Narins, P.M. and Capranica, R.R. (1975) Three populations of primary auditory fibers in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana): their peripheral origins and frequency sensitivities. J. Comp. Physiol. 100, 221–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Frischkopf, L.S. and Goldstein, M.H. (1963) Responses to acoustic stimuli from single units in the eighth nerve of the bullfrog. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 35, 1219–1228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Galambos, R. and Davis H. (1944) Inhibition of activity in single auditory nerve fibers by acoustic stimulation. J. Neurophysiol. 7, 287–303.Google Scholar
  8. Hind, J.E., Anderson, D.J., Brugge, J.R. and Rose J.E. (1967) Coding of information pertaining to paired low frequency tones in single auditory nerve fibers of the squirrel monkey. J. Neurophysiol. 30, 794–816.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Holton, T. and Weiss, T.F. (1978) Two-tone suppression in lizard cochlear nerve fibers, relation to receptor morphology. Brain Res. 159, 219–222.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Javel, E., Geisler, C.D. and Ravindran, A. (1978) Two-tone suppression in auditory nerve of the cat: rate-intensity and temporal analysis. J. Acoust Soc. Am. 63, 1093–1104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Khanna, S.M. and Leonard, D.G.B. (1982). Basilar membrane tuning in the cat cochlea. Science 215, 305–306.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kiang, N.Y.S., Watanabe, T., Thomas, E.C. and Clark, L. (1965) Discharge patterns of single fibers in the cat’s auditory nerve. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  13. Nomoto, M., Suga, N. and Katsuki, Y. (1964) Discharege pattern and inhibition of primary auditory nerve fibers in the monkey. J. Neurophysiol. 27, 768–787.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Patuzzi, R., Sellick, P.M. and Johnstone, B.M. (1984) The modulation of the sensitivity of the mammalian cochlea by low-frequency tones. III. Basilar membrane motion. Hear. Res. 13, 19–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rhode, W.S. (1971) Observations of the vibration of the basilar membrane in squirrel monkeys using the Mossbauer technique. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 49, 1218–1231.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rhode, W.S. (1977) Some observations on two-tone interaction measured with the Mossbauer effect. In: Psychophysics and Physiology of Hearing (Eds: Evans, E.F. and Wilson, J.P.) Academic Press, London, pp. 27–41.Google Scholar
  17. Rhode, W.S. and Robles, L. (1974) Evidence from Mossbauer experiments for nonlinear vibration in the cochlea. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 55, 588–596.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Robles, L., Ruggero, M.A. and Rich, N.C. (1986) Basilar membrane mechanics at the base of the chinchilla cochlea. I. Input-output functions, tuning curves and response phases. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 80, 1364–1374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sachs, M.B. (1969) Stimulus-response relation for auditory-nerve fibers: two-tone suppression. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 45, 1025–1036.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sachs, M.B. and Kiang, N.Y.S. (1968) Two-tone inhibition in auditory-nerve fibers. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 43, 1120–1128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sachs, M.B., Young, E.D. and Lewis, R.H. (1974) Discharge patterns of single fibers in the pigeon auditory nerve. Brain Res. 70, 431–447.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schmiedt, R.A. (1982) Boundaries of two-tone rate suppression of cochlear-nerve activity. Hear. Res. 7, 335–351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sellick, P.M., Patuzzi, R. and Johnstone, B.M. (1982) Measurement of basilar membrane motion in the guinea pig using the Mossbauer technique. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 72, 131–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sellick, P.M. and Russell, I.J. (1979) Two-tone suppression in cochlear hair cells. Hear. Res. 1, 227–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Robles
    • 1
  • Mario A. Ruggero
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nola C. Rich
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Fisiología y Biofísica, Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad de ChileCasillaChile
  2. 2.Department of OtolaryngologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

Personalised recommendations