Laser-feedback measurements of turtle basilar membrane motion using direct reflection

Hear Res. 1995 Apr;84(1-2):125-38. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(95)00018-y.


In mammalian hearing, the frequency-dependent spatial pattern of movement in the basilar membrane/organ of Corti complex forms the basis of frequency discrimination. This is not necessarily the case in lower vertebrates; the turtle, for example, has an electrical resonance mechanism in its auditory receptor cells that varies in best frequency from cell to cell. But how much, if any, of the frequency separation by the turtle is done mechanically by the basilar membrane complex? Attempts to find an investigative approach that avoided placing objects on the basilar membrane led to the rediscovery of laser-feedback interferometry. Laser-feedback interferometric investigations of the vibrational amplitude and phase of the turtle basilar membrane in response to imposed nanometer displacements of the eardrum reveal that the membrane reflects the broadly-tuned middle-ear filter characteristics. Phase-angle measurements of the basilar membrane as a function of frequency, and the best frequency of the obtained amplitude tuning curves, did not vary as a function of position within each specimen. Input-output functions of the basilar membrane were generally linear. The middle ear demonstrates a negative gain of 2-6 while the central region of the basilar membrane has a positive gain of 4-18 dependent on location and biological variability.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Basilar Membrane / physiology*
  • Calibration
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials / physiology*
  • Feedback
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interferometry
  • Lasers
  • Organ of Corti / physiology*
  • Scala Tympani / physiology
  • Turtles