Effect of current stimulus on in vivo cochlear mechanics

J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 Jan;113(1):442-52. doi: 10.1121/1.1519546.


In this paper, the influence of direct current stimulation on the acoustic impulse response of the basilar membrane (BM) is studied. A positive current applied in the scala vestibuli relative to a ground electrode in the scala tympani is found to enhance gain and increase the best frequency at a given location on the BM. An opposite effect is found for a negative current. Also, the amplitude of low-frequency cochlear microphonic at high sound levels is found to change with the concurrent application of direct current stimulus. BM vibrations in response to pure tone acoustic excitation are found to possess harmonics whose levels relative to the fundamental increase with the application of positive current and decrease with the application of negative current. A model for outer hair cell activity that couples changes in length and stiffness to transmembrane potential is used to interpret the results of these experiments and others in the literature. The importance of the in vivo mechanical and electrical loading is emphasized. Simulation results show the somewhat paradoxical finding that for outer hair cells under tension, hyperpolarization causes shortening of the cell length due to the dominance of voltage dependent stiffness changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Basilar Membrane / physiology*
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / physiology*
  • Loudness Perception / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*
  • Scala Tympani / physiology*
  • Sound Spectrography
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*