Hydromechanical Structure of the Cochlea Supports the Backward Traveling Wave in the Cochlea in Vivo

Fangyi Chen, Dingjun Zha, Xiaojie Yang, Allyn Hubbard, Alfred Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The discovery that an apparent forward-propagating otoacoustic emission (OAE) induced basilar membrane vibration has created a serious debate in the field of cochlear mechanics. The traditional theory predicts that OAE will propagate to the ear canal via a backward traveling wave on the basilar membrane, while the opponent theory proposed that the OAE will reach the ear canal via a compression wave. Although accepted by most people, the basic phenomenon of the backward traveling wave theory has not been experimentally demonstrated. In this study, for the first time, we showed the backward traveling wave by measuring the phase spectra of the basilar membrane vibration at multiple longitudinal locations of the basal turn of the cochlea. A local vibration source with a unique and precise location on the cochlear partition was created to avoid the ambiguity of the vibration source in most previous studies. We also measured the vibration pattern at different places of a mechanical cochlear model. A slow backward traveling wave pattern was demonstrated by the time-domain sequence of the measured data. In addition to the wave propagation study, a transmission line mathematical model was used to interpret why no tonotopicity was observed in the backward traveling wave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7502648
JournalNeural plasticity
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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