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    High sensitivity and selectivity of hearing require an active cochlea. The cochlear sensory epithelium, the organ of Corti, vibrates because of external and internal excitations. The external stimulation is acoustic pressures mediated by the scala fluids, whereas the internal excitation is generated by a type of sensory receptor cells (the outer hair cells) in response to the acoustic vibrations. The outer hair cells are cellular actuators that are responsible for cochlear amplification. The organ of Corti is highly structured for transmitting vibrations originating from acoustic pressure and active outer hair cell force to the inner hair cells that synapse on afferent nerves. Understanding how the organ of Corti vibrates because of acoustic pressure and outer hair cell force is critical for explaining cochlear function. In this study, cochleae were freshly isolated from young gerbils. The organ of Corti in the excised cochlea was subjected to mechanical and electrical stimulation that are analogous to acoustic and cellular stimulation in the natural cochlea. Organ of Corti vibrations, including those of individual outer hair cells, were measured using optical coherence tomography. Respective vibration patterns due to mechanical and electrical stimulation were characterized. Interactions between the two vibration patterns were investigated by applying the two forms of stimulation simultaneously. Our results show that the interactions could be either constructive or destructive, which implies that the outer hair cells can either amplify or reduce vibrations in the organ of Corti. We discuss a potential consequence of the two interaction modes for cochlear frequency tuning. Copyright © 2020 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Talat Jabeen, Joseph C Holt, Jonathan R Becker, Jong-Hoon Nam. Interactions between Passive and Active Vibrations in the Organ of Corti In Vitro. Biophysical journal. 2020 Jul 21;119(2):314-325

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    PMID: 32579963

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