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J Audiol Otol. 2015 Apr;19(1):1-6. English. Review. https://doi.org/10.7874/jao.2015.19.1.1
Kim J , Koo M .
Division of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Research Institute of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Natural Sciences, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea. jskim@hallym.ac.kr
Abstract

Mass and stiffness affect on the peculiar characteristics of transmission of the middle ear and the distinctive behavior of the cochlear mechanics. Applying the principle of the mass and stiffness, the band-pass characteristic transfer function of the middle ear has been explained. The greatest transfer function of the middle ear, approximately 24-29 dB, is observed at 1-2 kHz in both cat and human species. However, at lower frequencies, the transfer function was disturbed by the stiffness of the middle ear primarily due to middle ear cavity. At higher frequencies, the transfer function was disturbed by the stiffness of the middle ear primarily due to middle ear bones. Several examples, such as an acoustic reflex, otitis media, and otosclerosis are discussed. For understanding the traveling wave of the basilar membrane, different place tuning at certain stimulus frequencies, contrastingly shaped basilar membrane to the cochlear duct, and the structural and physical characteristics of the whole cochlear partition were reviewed in terms of changing width, mass, and stiffness from the base to apex. Being about ten times wider, more massive, and one hundredfold stiffer at the base than the apex, the nature of the cochlear partition to absorb high-frequency energy changes in fluid pressure declines toward the apex. Consequently, at the base of the cochlea, high frequencies stimuli are decoded while low frequencies stimuli are decoded at the apex of the cochlea. Due to these characteristics of the cochlear partition, the direction of the traveling wave was also proved to be in the fashion of base-to-apex always.

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