Basilar membrane velocity noise

Alfred L. Nuttall, Guo Menhe, Ren Tianying, David F. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Basilar membrane (BM) noise, measured as a velocity signal under the quiet acoustic condition, was investigated in the guinea pig. The cochleas of anesthetized young healthy guinea pigs were surgically exposed and a hole was made on the lateral wall of the scala tympani of the first cochlear turn for visualization of the BM and measurement of the BM velocity with a laser interferometer. The amplitude and frequency of the BM velocity noise were analyzed by a spectrum analyzer under different conditions. The spectrum of the BM velocity noise was a band limited function with a peak velocity at the topographic best frequency of the measured location on the BM. The peak velocity ranged to about 8 μm/s and depended on the physiological condition of the cochlea. Saline blockage of the external auditory canal or the middle ear did not change the BM noise. BM noise was much smaller, or was not evident, when the cochlear sensitivity decreased. The suppression tuning curve of the BM velocity noise indicates that the maximum suppression caused by an acoustic pure tone occurred at the best frequency location. A low sound level wide band acoustic noise given to the external ear canal produced a spectrum function having the same frequency and amplitude response as the BM noise. Electrical stimulation of the crossed olivocochlear bundle significantly depresses the BM velocity noise. These data demonstrate that the BM noise is a representation of internal rather than external noise. The amplitude and frequency of the BM noise reflect the usual cochlear sensitivity and frequency selectivity. Since the organ of Corti in the sensitive cochlea is a highly sensitive and tuned mechanical system, the internal (to the animal) noise responsible for the BM noise may originate from mechanical vibrations remote from the cochlea and propagated to the ear, or may be caused by Brownian motion of cellular structures in the cochlea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1997


  • Basilar membrane
  • Brownian motion
  • Cochlea
  • Cochlear mechanics
  • Guinea pig
  • Laser interferometer
  • Noise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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