A biophysical model of cochlear processing: Intensity dependence of pure tone responses

S. A. Shamma, R. S. Chadwick, W. J. Wilbur, K. A. Morrish, J. Rinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A mathematical model of cochlear processing is developed to account for the nonlinear dependence of frequency selectivity on intensity in inner hair cell and auditory nerve fiber responses. The model describes the transformation from acoustic stimulus to intracellular hair cell potentials in the cochlea. It incorporates a linear formulation of basilar membrane mechanics and subtectorial fluid-cilia displacement coupling, and a simplified description of the inner hair cell nonlinear transduction process. The analysis at this stage is restricted to low-frequency single tones. The computed responses to single tone inputs exhibit the experimentally observed nonlinear effects of increasing intensity such as the increase in the bandwidth of frequency selectivity and the downward shift of the best frequency. In the model, the first effect is primarily due to the saturating effect of the hair cell nonlinearity. The second results from the combined effects of both the nonlinearity and of the inner hair cell low-pass transfer function. In contrast to these shifts along the frequency axis, the model does not exhibit intensity dependent shifts of the spatial location along the cochlea of the peak response for a given single tone. The observed shifts therefore do not contradict an intensity invariant tonotopic code.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-145
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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