Three-dimensional motion of the organ of Corti

Biophys J. 2000 May;78(5):2285-97. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(00)76775-0.


The vibration of the organ of Corti, a three-dimensional micromechanical structure that incorporates the sensory cells of the hearing organ, was measured in three mutually orthogonal directions. This was achieved by coupling the light of a laser Doppler vibrometer into the side arm of an epifluorescence microscope to measure velocity along the optical axis of the microscope, called the transversal direction. Displacements were measured in the plane orthogonal to the transverse direction with a differential photodiode mounted on the microscope in the focal plane. Vibration responses were measured in the fourth turn of a temporal-bone preparation of the guinea-pig cochlea. Responses were corrected for a "fast" wave component caused by the presence of the hole in the cochlear wall, made to view the structures. The frequency responses of the basilar membrane and the reticular lamina were similar, with little phase differences between the vibration components. Their motion was rectilinear and vertical to the surface of their membranes. The organ of Corti rotated about a point near the edge of the inner limbus. A second vibration mode was detected in the motion of the tectorial membrane. This vibration mode was directed parallel to the reticular lamina and became apparent for frequencies above approximately 0.5 oct below the characteristic frequency. This radial vibration mode presumably controls the shearing action of the hair bundles of the outer hair cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basilar Membrane / physiology
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microspheres
  • Movement
  • Organ of Corti / physiology*
  • Tectorial Membrane / physiology
  • Vibration