We recorded responses of the gerbil basilar membrane (BM) to wideband tone complexes. The intensity of one component was varied and the effects on the amplitude and phase of the others were assessed. This suppression paradigm enabled us to vary probe frequency and suppressor frequency independently, allowing the use of simple scaling arguments to analyze the spatial buildup of the nonlinear interaction between traveling waves. Most suppressors had the same effects on probe amplitude and phase as did wideband intensity increments. The main exception were suppressors above the characteristic frequency (CF) of the recording location, for which the frequency range of most affected probes was not constant, but shifted upward with suppressor frequency. BM displacement reliably predicted the effectiveness of low-side suppressors, but not high-side suppressors. We found "anti-suppression" of probes well below CF, i.e., suppressor-induced enhancement of probe response amplitude. Large (>1 cycle) phase effects occurred for above-CF probes. Phase shifts varied nonmonotonically, but systematically, with suppressor level, probe frequency, and suppressor frequency, reconciling apparent discrepancies in the literature. The analysis of spatial buildup revealed an accumulation of local effects on the propagation of the traveling wave, with larger BM displacement reducing the local forward gain. The propagation speed of the wave was also affected. With larger BM displacement, the basal portion of the wave slowed down, while the apical part sped up. This framework of spatial buildup of local effects unifies the widely different effects of overall intensity, low-side suppressors, and high-side suppressors on BM responses.

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doi.org/10.1007/s10162-013-0393-0, hdl.handle.net/1765/67529
Department of Neuroscience

Versteegh, C., & van der Heijden, M. (2013). The spatial buildup of compression and suppression in the mammalian cochlea. J A R O, 14(4), 523–545. doi:10.1007/s10162-013-0393-0