Otolith responses to dynamical stimuli: results of a numerical investigation

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To investigate the dynamic effects of external forces on the displacement of the otolith membrane and subsequent neuronal responses of otoliths, we performed numerical analyses of otolith membrane displacements. In these studies we included the full geometry of the human otolith maculae, including their 3D curvature. The first part focuses on mechanical aspects of the otolith membrane. While it was found that the mechanical coupling of distant parts of the otolith membrane is only weak, these simulations indicate that curvature may have considerable local effects on displacements. They further suggest that the movements of the otoconia, embedded in the interotoconial matrix, show a resonance in a range between 100 and 2000 Hz. In the second part of the article we also investigate the tonic-phasic responses in the vestibular nerve emanating from hair cells in the striola region. Small head tilts away from head upright position are used. The simulations indicate that the direction of head tilt is coded in characteristic response patterns along the striola.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


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