Recent studies suggest that wave motions of the tectorial membrane (TM) play a critical role in determining the frequency selectivity of hearing. However, frequency tuning is also thought to be limited by viscous loss in subtectorial fluid. Here, we analyze effects of this loss and other cochlear loads on TM traveling waves. Using a viscoelastic model, we demonstrate that hair bundle stiffness has little effect on TM traveling waves calculated with physiological parameters, that the limbal attachment can cause small (<20%) increases in TM wavelength, and that viscous loss in the subtectorial fluid can cause small (<20%) decreases in TM wave decay constants. However, effects of viscous loss in the subtectorial fluid are significantly increased if TM thickness is decreased. In contrast, increasing TM thickness above its physiological range has little effect on the wave, suggesting that the TM is just thick enough to maximize the spatial extent of the TM traveling wave.
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