Addressed Exponential Delay Line Theory of Cochlear Organization


SINGLE unit studies of the auditory nerve, such as that of Tasaki1, have shown that the neurones innervating the cochlea are in general sharply tuned, each to its own characteristic frequency (CF). In response to a sharp click a unit of mid or low CF tends to fire repetitively and at preferred times, as if stimulated by a poorly damped resonator very sharply tuned to its CF2. In contrast, the travelling wave generated as the mechanical response to a pure tone, as measured by von Békésy3, has a relatively flat amplitude envelope and the impulse response for the basilar membrane computed on the basis of von Bekesy's data indicates that the system is highly damped4. We propose a fresh approach, not based on the principle of mechanical resonance5–7.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Tasaki, I., J. Neurophysiol., 17, 97 (1954).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Kiang, N. Y.-S., Discharge Patterns of Single Fibers in the Cat's Auditory Nerve, MIT Research Monograph No. 35 (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    von Békésy, G., Experiments in Hearing (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Flanagan, J. L., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 34, 1370 (1962).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Weiss, T. F., Kybernetik, 3, 153 (1966).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Huxley, A. F., Nature, 221, 935 (1969).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Lynn, P. A., and Sayers, B. McA., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 47, Part 2, 525 (1970).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Flanagan, J. L., and Bird, C. M., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 34, 114 (1962).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Tasaki, I., Davis, H., and Legouix, J.-P., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 24, 502 (1952).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Nordmark, J. O., Glattke, T. J., and Schubert, E. D., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 46, Part 2, 1587 (1969).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Spoendlin, H., The Organization of the Cochlear Receptor (S. Karger, Basel, Switzerland, 1966).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Spoendlin, H., Acta Otolaryngol., 67, 239 (1969).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Johnstone, B. M., and Boyle, A. J. F., Science, 158, 389 (1967).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Møller, A. R., Acta Physiol. Scand., 78, 299 (1970).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Katsuki, Y., Suga, N., and Kanno, Y., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 34, 1396 (1962).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Rupert, A., Moushegian, G., and Galambos, R., J. Neurophysiol., 26, 449 (1963).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Frishkopf, L. S., J. Acoust. Soc. Amer., 36, 1016 (1964).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Nieder, P., and Nieder, I., Nature, 227, 184 (1970).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Nieder, P., and Nieder, I., Brain Res., 21, 135 (1970).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Nieder, P., and Nieder, I., Exp. Neurol., 28, 179 (1970).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Dewson, J. H. III, J. Neurophysiol., 31, 122 (1968).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

NIEDER, P. Addressed Exponential Delay Line Theory of Cochlear Organization. Nature 230, 255–257 (1971).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.