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J Acoust Soc Am. 2003 Feb;113(2):902-13.

Factors contributing to bone conduction: the outer ear.

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  • 1Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, USA.


The ear canal sound pressure and the malleus umbo velocity with bone conduction (BC) stimulation were measured in nine ears from five cadaver heads in the frequency range 0.1 to 10 kHz. The measurements were conducted with both open and occluded ear canals, before and after resection of the lower jaw, in a canal with the cartilage and soft tissues removed, and with the tympanic membrane (TM) removed. The sound pressure was about 10 dB greater in an intact ear canal than when the cartilage part of the canal had been removed. The occlusion effect was close to 20 dB for the low frequencies in an intact ear canal; this effect diminished with sectioning of the canal. At higher frequencies, the resonance properties of the ear canal determined the effect of occluding the ear canal. Sectioning of the lower jaw did not significantly alter the sound pressure in the ear canal. The sound radiated from the TM into the ear canal was investigated in four temporal bone specimens; this sound is significantly lower than the sound pressure in an intact ear canal with BC stimulation. The malleus umbo velocity with air conduction stimulation was investigated in nine temporal bone specimens and compared with the umbo velocity obtained with BC stimulation in the cadaver heads. The results show that for a normal open ear canal, the sound pressure in the ear canal with BC stimulation is not significant for BC hearing. At threshold levels and for frequencies below 2 kHz, the sound in the ear canal caused by BC stimulation is about 10 dB lower than air conduction hearing thresholds; this difference increases at higher frequencies. However, with the ear canal occluded, BC hearing is dominated by the sound pressure in the outer ear canal for frequencies between 0.4 and 1.2 kHz.

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