Inverted direction of wave propagation (IDWP) in the cochlea

Egbert De Boer, Jiefu Zheng, Edward Porsov, Alfred L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The "classical" view on wave propagation is that propagating waves are possible in both directions along the length of the basilar membrane and that they have identical properties. Results of several recently executed experiments [T. Ren, Nat. Neurosci. 2, 333-334 (2004) and W. X. He, A. L. Nuttall, and T. Ren, Hear. Res., 228, 112-122 (2007)] appear to contradict this view. In the current work measurements were made of the velocity of the guinea-pig basilar membrane (BM). Distortion products (DPs) were produced by presenting two primary tones, with frequencies below the characteristic frequency f0 of the BM location at which the BM measurements were made, with a constant frequency ratio. In each experiment the phase of the principal DP, with frequency 2 f1 - f2, was recorded as a function of the DP frequency. The results indicate that the DP wave going from the two-tone interaction region toward the stapes is not everywhere traveling in the reverse direction, but also in the forward direction. The extent of the region in which the forward wave occurs appears larger than is accounted for by classical theory. This property has been termed "inverted direction of wave propagation." The results of this study confirm the wave propagation findings of other authors. The experimental data are compared to theoretical predictions for a classical three-dimensional model of the cochlea that is based on noise-response data of the same animal. Possible physical mechanisms underlying the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1521
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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