Acoustic responses of the human middle ear

Hear Res. 2000 Dec;150(1-2):43-69. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(00)00177-5.


Measurements on human cadaver ears are reported that describe sound transmission through the middle ear. Four response variables were measured with acoustic stimulation at the tympanic membrane: stapes velocity, middle-ear cavity sound pressure, acoustic impedance at the tympanic membrane and acoustic impedance of the middle-ear cavity. Measurements of stapes velocity at different locations on the stapes suggest that stapes motion is predominantly 'piston-like', for frequencies up to at least 2000 Hz. The measurements are generally consistent with constraints of existing models. The measurements are used (1) to show how the cavity pressure and the impedance at the tympanic membrane are related, (2) to develop a measurement-based middle-ear cavity model, which shows that the middle-ear cavity has only small effects on the motion of the tympanic membrane and stapes in the normal ear, although it may play a more prominent role in pathological ears, and (3) to show that inter-ear variations in the impedance at the tympanic membrane and the stapes velocity are not well correlated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Impedance Tests
  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Ear, Middle / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Motion
  • Pressure
  • Sound*
  • Stapes / physiology
  • Tympanic Membrane / physiology