Filtering of acoustic signals within the hearing organ

Sripriya Ramamoorthy, Dingjun Zha, Fangyi Chen, Steven L. Jacques, Ruikang Wang, Niloy Choudhury, Alfred L. Nuttall, Anders Fridberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The detection of sound by the mammalian hearing organ involves a complex mechanical interplay among different cell types. The inner hair cells, which are the primary sensory receptors, are stimulated by the structural vibrations of the entire organ of Corti. The outer hair cells are thought to modulate these sound-evoked vibrations to enhance hearing sensitivity and frequency resolution, but it remains unclear whether other structures also contribute to frequency tuning. In the current study, sound-evoked vibrations were measured at the stereociliary side of inner and outer hair cells and their surrounding supporting cells, using optical coherence tomography interferometry in living anesthetized guinea pigs. Our measurements demonstrate the presence of multiple vibration modes as well as significant differences in frequency tuning and response phase among different cell types. In particular, the frequency tuning at the inner hair cells differs from other cell types, causing the locus of maximum inner hair cell activation to be shifted toward the apex of the cochlea compared with the outer hair cells. These observations show that additional processing and filtering of acoustic signals occur within the organ of Corti before inner hair cell excitation, representing a departure from established theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9051-9058
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number27
StatePublished - 2014


  • Basilar membrane
  • Cochlea
  • Cochlear amplifier
  • Inner hair cells
  • Outer hair cells
  • Reticular lamina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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