Simulation for the organ of Corti and excitation of inner hair cell cilia

Charles Steele
Stanford University

The cochlear of the inner ear transforms the incoming sound pressure into neural excitation. Despite extensive experiments and modeling for the past century, understanding the behavior of the cochlea is far from complete. With an efficient program (Fast4) for shell of revolution structures, all mechanical (elastic) details of the curved cochlear cross section and the organ of Corti can be computed. Based on the known values for the elastic moduli of the protein fibers and estimates for the geometry, the responses to point and pressure loads have been calculated which are reasonably close to the direct measurements. In the present work, the details of the inner hair cell are included, with a fluid gap between the tip of the cilia and the Hensen stripe of the tectorial membrane. A simple model for the near contact indicates nonlinear response similar to the intracellular recordings. This near contact is included into a more complete elastic model for the organ of Corti that includes three rows of cilia and tip links. Results for low frequency, for which the fluid motion in the longitudinal direction can be neglected will be show. Current work is on the extension to full 3-D analysis.

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