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The cochlear amplifier that provides our hearing with its extraordinary sensitivity and selectivity is thought to be the result of an active biomechanical process within the sensory auditory organ, the organ of Corti. Although imaging techniques are developing rapidly, it is not currently possible, in a fully active cochlea, to obtain detailed measurements of the motion of individual elements within a cross section of the organ of Corti. This motion is predicted using a two-dimensional finite-element model. The various solid components are modelled using elastic elements, the outer hair cells (OHCs) as piezoelectric elements and the perilymph and endolymph as viscous and nearly incompressible fluid elements. The model is validated by comparison with existing measurements of the motions within the passive organ of Corti, calculated when it is driven either acoustically, by the fluid pressure or electrically, by excitation of the OHCs. The transverse basilar membrane (BM) motion and the shearing motion between the tectorial membrane and the reticular lamina are calculated for these two excitation modes. The fully active response of the BM to acoustic excitation is predicted using a linear superposition of the calculated responses and an assumed frequency response for the OHC feedback. © 2016 The Author(s).


Guangjian Ni, Stephen J Elliott, Johannes Baumgart. Finite-element model of the active organ of Corti. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface. 2016 Feb;13(115):20150913

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PMID: 26888950

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