Mechanisms of hearing question

TONYJEFFS tonyjeffs at
Sun Dec 13 06:26:32 EST 1998

My understanding is that the 'dead' cochlea has a frequency resolution of
around 1/2 an octave, and in vivo it is the 'lateral inhibition' provided by
the motile outer hair cells (OHCs) that refines this frequency resolution.

Now consider the following: 
IHCs initially detect a sound pressure wave and send the information to the
brain. The brain processes this data, and send instructions back to the
appropriate OHCs.  The OHCs do their 'fine tuning' work, enabling the
appropriate IHCs to accurately identify the frequency of the incoming sound.

If that is approximately correct, I see a  problem:-:
There would be a delay of the order of milliseconds while (1) the initial
information is relayed to appropriate brain nuclei, (2) The information is
processed, (3) instructions are sent to the OHCs.

Several milliseconds delay seems rather a long time, particularly as I think
(?) we can hear sounds of a shorter duration than this.

Is my description along the right lines? I suspect I'm missing something!
Could  there really such a delay?


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