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J Acoust Soc Am. 1997 Sep;102(3):1734-8.

Medial efferent inhibition suppresses basilar membrane responses to near characteristic frequency tones of moderate to high intensities.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom.


Efferent inhibition of low and medium spontaneous-rate fiber activity in response to characteristic frequency (CF) tones is greater at levels between 50 and 75 dB SPL than at lower levels, and even occurs at levels of 100 dB SPL [Guinan and Stankovic, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 100, 1680-1690 (1996)]. The self-mixing effect of a laser diode was used to measure tone-evoked, basilar membrane (BM) displacements in the basal turn of the guinea pig cochlea during electrical stimulation of the medial efferent system. Efferent stimulation suppresses BM displacement and, for frequencies close to the CF of the measurement site and above, attenuation of tone-evoked displacements appears to be greatest for levels between 50 and 75 dB SPL, and efferent attenuation could exceed 10 dB SPL for tones at 90 dB SPL. By comparison, the attenuation of the BM vibrations caused by tones at frequencies below CF was found to be greatest for low sound pressure levels. The findings of Guinan and Stankovic therefore have their origin in events present in the vibrations of the BM.

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