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The Nobel Laureate Georg von Békésy’s Hearing Theory

Janos Vincze, Gabriella Vincze-Tiszay

Abstract: After Békésy the stapes base moves around two axes: for weaker sounds - rotates around its transverse axis; in case of a strong sound - it moves around its longitudinal axis. Békésy’s place theory cannot alone explain the frequency-distinguishing ability of the ear. However, the existence of active amplification further sharpens the frequency-analysing ability of the cochlea. In addition, the different frequency sensitivity of afferent nerve fibres of inner hair cells synergizes with the mechanisms above. Peaked resonance curves are consequences of different threshold sensitivities of nerves connecting to individual hair cells. The frequency, which belongs to the lowest stimulus threshold, is called the characteristic frequency of a nerve. This place assignment of nerve frequencies are formed by the following mechanism in the cochlea. The place of amplitude maxima of progressive waves excited in the basilar membrane shows slight frequency dependence. The mechanism of active amplification forming in outer hair cells amplifies and sharpens the resonances of the basilar membrane. In 1961, nobleman Georg von Békésy received the Nobel Prize in Medicine: “for his discoveries of the physical mechanisms of stimulation within the cochlea”.
Keywords: Bkésy / basilar / axis / sounds / threshold / moves / Theory / Georg / von / Nobel

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