Sound pressure transformation at the pinna of Mus domesticus

J Exp Biol. 1995 Sep;198(Pt 9):2007-23.


Sound pressure transformation properties at the pinna of laboratory mice Mus domesticus were studied by measuring the sound pressure level of a continuous tone at a series of frequencies at the tympanic membrane as a function of the position of a sound source under free-field stimulation conditions. The spectral transformation, the interaural spectral difference, the isopressure contours and the interaural pressure difference contours were plotted. Sound pressure transformation functions showed some prominent spectral notches throughout the frequency range tested (10-80 kHz). However, the notch frequency did not appear to be systematically related to sound direction. The study of interaural pressure difference demonstrated that, when delivered from some angles within the ipsilateral frontal hemisphere, the sound pressure at the tympanic membrane of certain frequencies may be lower than that determined at the corresponding contralateral angles. For each sound frequency tested, there was an angle (the acoustic axis) within the ipsilateral frontal hemisphere from which the delivered sound reached a maximal pressure level at the tympanic membrane. However, the acoustic axis often changed to a new angle after removal of the ipsilateral pinna. In addition, sound delivered from the acoustic axis did not always generate a maximal pressure transformation. The isopressure contours determined within 2-5 dB of the maximal pressure were circumscribed, and their contained angular areas were found to decrease with increasing sound frequency. The 2 dB maximal pressure area may appear at more than one angular area for some test frequencies. Removal of the ipsilateral pinna or modification of pinna posture expanded isopressure contours irregularly and split the 2 dB maximal pressure area into several parts. The sound pressure difference determined between the angles of maximal and minimal sound pressure (the maximal directionality) increased with sound frequency regardless of pinna posture. Acoustic gain of the pinna at the acoustic axis reached 6-12 dB, depending upon sound frequency. However, the pinna gain was not always maximal at the acoustic axis for a given frequency.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Ear, External / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Pressure
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Sound*
  • Tympanic Membrane / physiology