Developmental changes of mechanics measured in the gerbil cochlea

Gulam Emadi, Claus Peter Richter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This report describes stiffness and best frequency measurements obtained in vitro from the basilar membrane of the gerbil cochlea at the onset of hearing, during hearing maturation, and after hearing has matured. Our stiffness data constitute the first direct experimental evidence of developmental stiffness changes in the basal and middle turns. Stiffness changes by a factor of 5.5 in the basal turn between postnatal day 11 and adult, and the difference from adult is statistically significant for all ages measured up to postnatal day 16. For the middle turn, stiffness changes by a factor of 1.6 between postnatal day 11 and adult. Whereas for postnatal day 12 and beyond there is no statistically significant difference from adult, our data suggest that there may be a significant difference of stiffness between day 11 and adult in the middle turn. For the basal turn, our motion measurements confirm a passive component to the developmental best frequency shift. For the middle turn, changes in best frequency are not statistically significant. Best frequency was determined by stimulating the tissue at audio frequencies with a glass paddle and measuring motion with a computer-based imaging system. Tissue stiffness was measured with a piezoelectric-based sensor system. Tissue stiffness changes have previously been postulated to contribute to the best frequency shift observed in the cochlear base. Incorporating our data into a simple spring-mass resonance model demonstrates that our experimentally measured stiffness change can account for the change of best frequency. These results suggest that a stiffness change is, in fact, a critical component of the best frequency shift observed in the basal turn of the gerbil cochlea after the onset of hearing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Basilar membrane
  • Best frequency
  • Cochlea
  • Development
  • Mechanics
  • Stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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