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November 1965

Functional Mechanism of the Labyrinthine Epithelium: I. Criticism of the Present Conception

Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol. 1965;82(5):452-461. doi:10.1001/archotol.1965.00760010454002

THE CALAMITY began with von Helmholtz18 and his resonance theory. The basilar membrane with its fixation to the spiral ligament, with its meshwork of fibers spreading far upward and downward, embracing a system of communicating friction offering fluid spaces, must be considered, first of all, as counteracting sharply restricted areas of resonating vibrations. It was, therefore, no surprise when von Békésy4 found the basilar membrane certainly to vibrate to sounds in a frequency characteristic way but also in waves so broad that they, when of low pitch, extended over the whole length of the membrane and always with quite flat and even peaks (Fig 1). Von Bekesy found further that the vibrations always took the shape of travelling waves and not of standing waves as they ought to do by resonance. Resonance of the basilar membrane seems, however, not to be absolutely given up, if I have understood

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