Although auditory harmonic distortion has been demonstrated psychophysically in humans and electrophysiologically in experimental animals, the cellular origin of the mechanical harmonic distortion remains unclear. To demonstrate the outer hair cell-generated harmonics within the organ of Corti, we measured sub-nanometer vibrations of the reticular lamina from the apical ends of the outer hair cells in living gerbil cochleae using a custom-built heterodyne low-coherence interferometer. The harmonics in the reticular lamina vibration are significantly larger and have broader spectra and shorter latencies than those in the basilar membrane vibration. The latency of the second harmonic is significantly greater than that of the fundamental at low stimulus frequencies. These data indicate that the mechanical harmonics are generated by the outer hair cells over a broad cochlear region and propagate from the generation sites to their own best-frequency locations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)