Light-induced basilar membrane vibrations in the sensitive cochlea

Karl Grosh, Tianying Ren, Wenxuan He, Anders Fridberger, Yizeng Li, Amir Nankali

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The exceptional sensitivity of mammalian hearing organ is attributed to an outer hair cell-mediated active process, where forces produced by sensory cells boost sound-induced vibrations, making soft sounds audible. This process is thought to be local, with each section of the hearing organ capable of amplifying sound-evoked movement, and nearly instantaneous, since amplification can work for sounds at frequencies up to 100 kHz in some species. To test these precepts, we developed a method for focally stimulating the living hearing organ with light. Light pulses caused intense and highly damped mechanical responses followed by traveling waves that developed with considerable delay. The delayed response was identical to movements evoked by click-like sounds. A physiologically based mathematical model shows that such waves engage the active process, enhancing hearing sensitivity. The experiments and the theoretical analysis show that the active process is neither local nor instantaneous, but requires mechanical waves traveling from the cochlear base toward its apex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMechanics of Hearing
Subtitle of host publicationProtein to Perception - Proceedings of the 12th International Workshop on the Mechanics of Hearing
EditorsDavid P. Corey, K. Domenica Karavitaki
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780735413504
StatePublished - Dec 31 2015
Event12th International Workshop on the Mechanics of Hearing: Protein to Perception - Cape Sounio, Greece
Duration: Jun 23 2014Jun 29 2014

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Other12th International Workshop on the Mechanics of Hearing: Protein to Perception
CityCape Sounio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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