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Med Eng Phys. 2005 Nov;27(9):780-9. Epub 2005 Apr 18.

Compression, adaptation and efferent control in a revised outer hair cell functional model.

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  • 1Department of Applied Electronics, Kaunas University of Technology, LT-3031 Kaunas, Lithuania.


In the cochlea of the inner ear, outer hair cells (OHC) together with the local passive structures of the tectorial and basilar membranes comprise non-linear resonance circuits with the local and central (afferent-efferent) feedback. The characteristics of these circuits and their control possibilities depend on the mechanomotility of the OHC. The main element of our functional model of the OHC is the mechanomotility circuit with the general transfer characteristic y=ktanh(x-a). The parameter k of this characteristic reflects the axial stiffness of the OHC, and the parameter a working position of the hair bundle. The efferent synaptic signals act on the parameter k directly and on the parameter a indirectly through changes in the membrane potential. The dependences of the sensitivity and selectivity on changes in the parameters a and k are obtained by the computer simulation. Functioning of the model at low-level input signals is linear. Due to the non-linearity of the transfer characteristic of the mechanomotility circuit the high-level signals are compressed. For the adaptation and efferent control, however, the transfer characteristic with respect to the initial operating point should be asymmetrical (a>0). The asymmetry relies on the deflection of the hair bundle from the axis of the OHC.

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