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No evidence for DPOAEs in the mechanical motion of the locust tympanum

Moir, Hannah and Jackson, Joseph and Windmill, James (2011) No evidence for DPOAEs in the mechanical motion of the locust tympanum. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214 (19). pp. 3165-3172. ISSN 0022-0949

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Abstract

Distortion-product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) are present in non-linear hearing organs, and for low-intensity sounds are a by-product of active processes. In vertebrate ears they are considered to be due to hair cell amplification of sound in the cochlea; however, certain animals lacking a cochlea and hair cells are also reported to be capable of DPOAEs. In the Insecta, DPOAEs have been recorded from the locust auditory organ. However, the site of generation of these DPOAEs and the physiological mechanisms causing their presence in the locust ear are not yet understood, despite there being a number of potential places in the tympanal organ that could be capable of generating DPOAEs. This study aimed to record locust tympanal membrane vibration using a laser Doppler vibrometer in order to identify a distinct place of DPOAE generation on the membrane. Two species of locust were investigated over a range of frequencies and levels of acoustic stimulus, mirroring earlier acoustic recording studies; however, the current experiments were carried out in an open acoustic system. The laser measurements did not find any evidence of mechanical motion on the tympanal membrane related to the expected DPOAE frequencies. The results of the current study therefore could not confirm the presence of DPOAEs in the locust ear through the mechanics of the tympanal membrane. Experiments were also carried out to test how membrane behaviour altered when the animals were in a state of hypoxia, as this was previously found to decrease DPOAE magnitude, suggesting a metabolic sensitivity. However, hypoxia did not have any significant effect on the membrane mechanics. The location of the mechanical generation of DPOAEs in the locust's ear, and therefore the basis for the related physiological mechanisms, thus remains unknown.