Low coherence interferometry of the cochlear partition

Niloy Choudhury, Guiju Song, Fangyi Chen, Scott Matthews, Tanja Tschinkel, Jiefu Zheng, Steven L. Jacques, Alfred L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Interferometric measurement of the vibration of the organ of Corti in the isolated guinea pig cochlea was conducted using low-coherence light (1310 ± 47 nm wavelength) from a superluminescent diode. The short coherence length of the light source localized measurements along the axial direction to within a ∼10-μm window (in tissue), even when using a low numerical-aperture lens. The ability to accomplish this is important because measurement of the vibration of the basal-turn organ of Corti is generally done via a small hole in the bone of the cochlea, which effectively limits the numerical aperture. The axial localization, combined with the inherent sensitivity of the method, allowed distinct measurements of the basilar membrane (BM) and the putative reticular lamina (RL) vibration using only the native tissue reflectance, that is without requiring the use of reflective particles. The system was first operated in a scanning mode as an optical coherence tomography (OCT) system to yield an image of the organ of Corti. The reflectance of intensity from the BM and RL was 8 × 10-5 and 8 × 10-6, respectively. The internal structure between the BM and RL presented a variable reflectivity of about 10-7. A mirror would define a reflectance of 1.00. Then the instrument was operated as a homodyne interferometer to measure the displacement of either the BM or RL. Vibration at 16 kHz was induced by a piezoelectric actuator, causing whole movement of a dissected cochlea. After calibration of the system, we demonstrated clear measurement of mechanically driven vibration for both the BM and RL of 0.30 nm above a noise floor equivalent to 0.03 nm. OCT interferometry, when adapted for in vivo organ of Corti measurements, appears suitable to determine the micromechanical vibration of cells and tissue elements of the organ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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