Two-tone distortion in reticular lamina vibration of the living cochlea

Tianying Ren, Wenxuan He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It has been demonstrated that isolated auditory sensory cells, outer hair cells, can generate distortion products at low frequencies. It remains unknown, however, whether or not motile outer hair cells are able to generate two-tone distortion at high frequencies in living cochleae under the mechanical loads caused by surounding tissues and fluids. By measuring sub-nanometer vibration directly from the apical ends of outer hair cells using a custom-built heterodyne low-coherence interferometer, here we show outer hair cell-generated two-tone distortion in reticular lamina motion in the living cochlea. Reticular-lamina distortion is significantly greater and occurs at a broader frequency range than that of the basilar membrane. Contrary to expectations, our results indicate that motile outer hair cells are capable of generating two-tone distortion in vivo not only at the locations tuned to primary tones but also at a broad region basal to these locations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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