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J Acoust Soc Am. 1999 Aug;106(2):847-56.

Longitudinal endolymph movements and endocochlear potential changes induced by stimulation at infrasonic frequencies.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The inner ear is continually exposed to pressure fluctuations in the infrasonic frequency range (< 20 Hz) from external and internal body sources. The cochlea is generally regarded to be insensitive to such stimulation. The effects of stimulation at infrasonic frequencies (0.1 to 10 Hz) on endocochlear potential (EP) and endolymph movements in the guinea pig cochlea were studied. Stimuli were applied directly to the perilymph of scala tympani or scala vestibuli of the cochlea via a fluid-filled pipette. Stimuli, especially those near 1 Hz, elicited large EP changes which under some conditions exceeded 20 mV in amplitude and were equivalent to a cochlear microphonic (CM) response. Accompanying the electrical responses was a cyclical, longitudinal displacement of the endolymph. The amplitude and phase of the CM varied according to which perilymphatic scala the stimuli were applied to and whether a perforation was made in the opposing perilymphatic scala. Spontaneously occurring middle ear muscle contractions were also found to induce EP deflections and longitudinal endolymph movements comparable to those generated by perilymphatic injections. These findings suggest that cochlear fluid movements induced by pressure fluctuations at infrasonic frequencies could play a role in fluid homeostasis in the normal state and in fluid disturbances in pathological states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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