Two-tone distortion at different longitudinal locations on the basilar membrane

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37 Scopus citations


When listening to two tones at frequency f1 and f2 (f2 > f1), one can hear pitches not only at f1 and f2 but also at distortion frequencies f2 - f1, (n + 1)f1 - nf2, and (n + 1)f2 - nf1 (n = 1, 2, 3 ...). Such two-tone distortion products (DPs) also can be measured in the ear canal using a sensitive microphone. These ear-generated sounds are called otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). In spite of the common applications of OAEs, the mechanisms by which these emissions travel out of the cochlea remain unclear. In a recent study, the basilar membrane (BM) vibration at 2f1 - f2 was measured as a function of the longitudinal location, using a scanning laser interferometer. The data indicated a forward traveling wave and no measurable backward wave. However, this study had a relatively high noise floor and high stimulus intensity. In the current study, the noise floor of the BM measurement was significantly decreased by using reflective beads on the BM, and the vibration was measured at relatively low intensities at more than one longitudinal location. The results show that the DP phase at a basal location leads the phase at an apical location. The data indicate that the emission travels along the BM from base to apex as a forward traveling wave, and no backward traveling wave was detected under the current experimental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Basilar membrane
  • Distortion products
  • Laser interferometer
  • Otoacoustic emission
  • Traveling wave

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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