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J R Soc Interface. 2005 Sep 22;2(4):341-8.

Effects of coiling on the micromechanics of the mammalian cochlea.

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  • 1Section on Auditory Mechanics, NIH/NIDCD, Building 10, Room 5D49, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The cochlea transduces sound-induced vibrations in the inner ear into electrical signals in the auditory nerve via complex fluid-structure interactions. The mammalian cochlea is a spiral-shaped organ, which is often uncoiled for cochlear modelling. In those few studies where coiling has been considered, the cochlear partition was often reduced to the basilar membrane only. Here, we extend our recently developed hybrid analytical/numerical micromechanics model to include curvature effects, which were previously ignored. We also use a realistic cross-section geometry, including the tectorial membrane and cellular structures of the organ of Corti, to model the apical and basal regions of a guinea-pig cochlea. We formulate the governing equations of the fluid and solid domains in a curvilinear coordinate system. The WKB perturbation method is used to treat the propagation of travelling waves along the coiled cochlear duct, and the O(1) system of the governing equations is solved in the transverse plane using finite-element analysis. We find that the curvature of the cochlear geometry has an important functional significance; at the apex, it greatly increases the shear gain of the cochlear partition, which is a measure of the bending efficiency of the outer hair cell stereocilia.

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