Two-Tone Distortion Products in the Basilar Membrane of the Chinchilla Cochlea

  • Luis Robles
  • Mario A. Ruggero
  • Nola C. Rich
Part of the Lecture Notes in Biomathematics book series (LNBM, volume 87)


It has been known since the early 18th. century that distortion products (DPs) exist in the auditory sensation evoked by pairs of tones [Jones, 1935]. Such DPs, also known as combination tones, can be heard at frequencies that are combinations of the primary frequencies, such as f2-f1, (n+1)f1-nf2 and (n+1)f2-nf1 , where f1 and f2 are the primary frequencies (f2 > f1, n = 1,2,3 ...). The most prominent and the best studied DPs are those with frequencies lower than those of the primary tones, particularly the “cubic difference tone” with frequency equal to 2f1-f2 [Zwicker, 1955; Goldstein, 1967; Smoorenburg, 1972], but DPs at frequencies greater than those of the primary tones (i.e., at 2f2-fJ and f2 + f ) have also been reported [Zurek and Sachs, 1979). Psychophysical studies on the frequency dependence of the 2fl -f2 distortion component suggested that this DP is generated in a mechanical nonlinearity located at the basilar membrane (BM) or in a structure closely coupled to it [Goldstein, 1967; Smoorenburg, 1972]. This was supported by recordings of cochlear microphonics [Gibian and Kim, 1982] and of responses of auditory-nerve fibers [Goldstein and Kiang, 1968; Buunen and Rhode, 1978; Kim et al., 1980; Siegel et al., 1982], cochlearnucleus neurons [Smoorenburg et al., 1976] and inner hair cells [Nuttall and Dolan, 1990), showing DPs at levels consistent with psychophysical data. Since the middle ear responds linearly to sound [Guinan and Peake, 1967; Ruggero et al., 1990] and since neural responses to DPs can be abolished by hair cell damage at cochlear sites preferentially tuned to the frequencies of the primary tones [Siegel ct al., 1982], it was concluded that DPs are generated at these sites and propagate mechanically along the cochlea to the basilar membrane location tuned to the DP frequency [Kim et al., 1980; Siegel et al., 1982).


Hair Cell Basilar Membrane Tuning Curve Stimulus Level Effective Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Buunen, TJ.F. and Rhode, W.S. (1978) Responses of fibers in the eat’s auditory nerve to the cubic difference tone. J. Acoust Soc. Am. 64, 772–781.Google Scholar
  2. Gibian, G.L. and Kim, D.,. (1982) Cochlear microphonic evidence for mechanical propagation of distortion products (frfl) and (2f1–f2). Hear. Res, 6, 35–59,Google Scholar
  3. Goldstein, J.L. (1961) Auditory nonlinearity. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 41, 676–689,Google Scholar
  4. Goldstein, J.L. and Kiang, N.Y.S. (1968) Neural correlates of the aural combination tone 2fGoogle Scholar
  5. Guinan, JJ., Jr. and Peake, WT. (1967) Middle–ear characteristics of anesthetized cats. J. Acous!. Soc. Am. 41,1237–1261.Google Scholar
  6. Hubbard, AE. and Mountain, D.C. (1990) Haireell forward and reverse transduction: Differential suppression and enhancement. Hear. Res. 43, 269–272.Google Scholar
  7. Jones, A.T. (1935) The discovery of difference tones. Amer. Phys. Teacher 3, 49–51.Google Scholar
  8. Kim, D.,., Molnar, c.c. and Matthews, J.W. (1980) Cochlear mechanics: nonlinear behavior in two–tone resfK>nses as renected in cochlear–nerve–fiber responses and in ear–canal sound pressure. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 67,1704–1721.Google Scholar
  9. Mountain, D.C. (1980) Changes in endolymphatic potential and crossed olivocochlear bundle stimulation alter cochlear mechanics. Science 210, 71–72.Google Scholar
  10. Nuttall, AL. and Dolan, D.F. (1990) Inner hair cell responses to the 2f interrnodulation product. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 87, 782–790.Google Scholar
  11. Nuttall, AL., Dolan, D.F. and Avinash, G. (1989) Laser Doppler vibrometer measurements of basilar membrane motion in the guinea pig. Soc. for Neurosci. Abst. 15, 209.Google Scholar
  12. Nuttall, AL., Dolan, D.F.and Avinash, G. (1990) Laser Doppler velocimetry of basilar membrane vibrations. Hear. Res. (submitted).Google Scholar
  13. Patuzzi, R., Sellick, P.M. and Johnstone, B.M. (1984) The modulation of the sensitivity of the mammalian cochlea by low frequency tones. 111. Basilar membrane motion. Hear. Res. 13, 19–27.Google Scholar
  14. Patuzzi, R, Yates, G.K. and Johnstone, B.M. (1989) Outer hair cell receptor current and sensorineural hearing loss. Hear. Res. 42, 47–72.Google Scholar
  15. Rhode, W.S. (1971) Observations of the vibration of the basilar membrane in squirrel monkeys using the Mtissbauer technique. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 49, 1218–1231.Google Scholar
  16. Rhode, W.S, (1977) Some observations on two–tone interaction measured with the Mtissbauer effect. In: Psychophysics and Physiology of Hearing, (Eds: Evans, E.F. and Wilson, J.P.) Academic Press, London, pp. 27–38.Google Scholar
  17. Robles, L., Rhode, W.S. and Geisler, CD. (1976) Transient response of the basilar membrane measured in squirrel monkeys using the Mtissbauer effect. J, Acoust. Soc. Am. 59, 926–939.Google Scholar
  18. Robles, L., Ruggero, MA. and Rich, N.C. (1986a) Basilar membrane mechanics at the base of the chin– 310 Two–tone distortion in the basilar membrane Robles, Ruggero and Rich chilla cochlea. I. Input–output functions, tuning curves, and response phases. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 80, 1364–1374.Google Scholar
  19. Robles, L., Ruggero, MA. and Rich, N.C (l986b) Mtissbauer measurements of the mechanical response to single–tone and two–tone stimuli at the base of the chinchilla cochlea. In: Peripheral Auditory Mechanisms (Eds: Allen, J.B., Hall, J.L., Hubbard, A., Neely, S.T. and Tubis, A.) Springer, Berlin, pp. 121–128.Google Scholar
  20. Robles, L., Ruggero, MA. and Rich, N.C (1989) Nonlinear interactions in the mechanical response of the cochlea to two–tone stimuli. In: Cochlear Mechanisms. Structure, Function and Models (Eds: Wilson, J.P. and Kemp, D.T.) Plenum Press, pp. 369–375.Google Scholar
  21. Ruggero, MA. and Rich, N.C. (1990a) Application of a commercially–manufactured Doppler–shift laser velocimeter to the measurement of basilar–membrane vibration. Hear. Res., in press.Google Scholar
  22. Ruggero, MA. and Rich, N.C. (l990b) Systemic injection of furosemide alters the mechanical response to sound of the basilar membrane. (In: this volume).Google Scholar
  23. Ruggero, MA, Rich, N.C., Robles, L. and Shivapuja, B.G. (1990) Middle–ear response in the chinchilla and its relationship to mechanics at the base of the cochlea. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 87, 1612–1629.Google Scholar
  24. Sellick, P.M., Patuzzi, R. and Johnstone, B.M. (1982) Measurement of basilar membrane motion in the guinea pig using the Mtissbauer teChnique. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 72, 131–141.Google Scholar
  25. Siegel, J.H., Kim, D.,. and Molnar, CE. (1982) Effects of altering organ of Corti on cochlear distortion products f –f and 2f –f . J. Neurophysiol. 47, 303–328.Google Scholar
  26. Smoorenburg, b.F. (1971) d,mbination tanes and their origin. J. Aeoust. Soc. Am. 52, 615–632.Google Scholar
  27. Smoorenburg, G.F., Gibson, M.M., Kitzes, L.M., Rose lE. and Hind, J.E. (1976) Correlates of combination tones observed in the response of neurons in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus of the cat. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 59, 945–%2.Google Scholar
  28. Wilson, J.P. and Johnstone, J.R. (1973) Basilar membrane correlates of the combination tone 2f Nature 241, 206–207.Google Scholar
  29. Zurek, P.M. and Sachs, R.M. (1979) Combination tones at frequencies greater than the primary tones. Science 205, 60–602.Google Scholar
  30. Zwicker, E. (1955) Der ungewahnliche Amplitudengang der nichtlinearen Verzerrungen des Ohres. Acustica 5, 67–74.Google Scholar
  31. Rich. N.C., Robles. L.. and Ruggero, M.A. (1990). Two–tone suppression in the basilar membrane of the chinchilla (in preparation).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Robles
    • 1
  • Mario A. Ruggero
    • 1
  • Nola C. Rich
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of OtolaryngologyUniversity of Minnesota, Research EastMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Fisiología y Biofisica, Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations