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Re: Oval and round windows
Perhaps the oval shape is simply a means to reduce the mass of the
stapes footplate (and the associated mass loading of the perilymph in
the vestibule). Keeping the mass small would allow better high-frequency
hearing. I'm not sure if reducing a round to an oval shape makes a
substantial mass difference (considering the other masses in the
ossicular chain), but this is my best immediate guess at a simple reason
for the oval shape.
The round window's main function is for pressure relief, so you want the
membrane to be as compliant as possible (for good low-frequency
hearing), which I'm pretty sure is achieved with a round shape. Again,
this is just a guess at a simple explanation.
Eaton-Peabody Laboratory of Auditory Physiology
Massachusettts Eye & Ear Infirmary
243 Charles St
Boston MA 02114
Lawrence Borden wrote:
Although it is probably a simple question for most of you, I have not run
across an answer to a question that occurred to me while gazing at the
lovely structure of the middle ear. Can anyone offer an explanation as to
why one window is oval while the other is round? Is there some additional
mechanical advantage to differing shapes?