back to basics (Eckard Blumschein )

Subject: back to basics
From:    Eckard Blumschein  <Eckard.Blumschein(at)E-TECHNIK.UNI-MAGDEBURG.DE>
Date:    Thu, 21 Sep 2000 10:52:44 +0200

Dear list, I would like to first humbly suggest a more flexible system of refereeing before commenting again on the question of traveling wave. Did you get aware of a perhaps not peer reviewed downright editorial "What's Shakin' in the Ear?" by Adrian Cho in Science 288, 16 June 2000, 1954-1955? Maybe, the most basic and consequently important work is not always a funded one. I do not refer to Bill Gates but to objections, e.g. by Seebeck (1841/43) or Gold (1948) against questionable concepts like spectral acoustic energy and its passive travel along basilar membrane. I was told that the maverick Tommy Gold was responsible himself for not getting recognized. Well, he was too intelligent as to fight against the two anonymous guards, because experiments of that sort may be deathly. When I grew up behind the communist firewall, the two heavily armed frontier guards were commanded by the party, and the party was always right. Nowadays, the web even allows to denounce Lighthill as notoriously driving too fast. Do not get me wrong. I highly appreciate the indispensable and excellent work of all referees. However, the system seems to be worth improving. So far, nobody feels responsible for anything after the referees' decision. Nobody might reckon on funding if she or he just tries to understand contradicting facts and consequently puts into question what was accepted for good. As a result, a huge number of high quality papers has been mounting. Possibly wrong basics are tabooed. Recio, Rich, Narayan, and Ruggero (1998) backed the travelling wave model by reporting (in active as well as death cochleae) "large phase lags and the long delays which, according to the one-dimensional long wave theory, characterize a traveling wave which transports energy along the cochlea". However, Rhode and Recio (2000) wrote "Phase after death. Is there a problem?" and "there is a latency difference in the response with the high-level response occurring ~100 us earlier than the lower-level response". Their Fig. 11 seems to confirm Dancer's idea of gradual OHC-resonance build-up. According to Manley, the bird emu contrasts from other birds by its mammal-like asymmetrical tuning curves. No matter whether or not in this case, hair cell resonance occurs without movement of the supporting structure, the hydrodynamic model is certainly not applicable. The same is true for DPOAE from the gecko. There must be at least one other explanation. Mammals, are distinguished by a highly developed mechanics performing a predominantly radial motion, being far beyond the scope of nowadays hydrodynamic modeling but nonetheless understandable. I do not doubt that the critical bandwidth is linked with two frequencies of resonance approximately 22% apart from each other on condition period does not much exceed 2 ms. Possibly this limit is due to a geometric constraint of the genetic "design", maybe limited mass of Hensen's cells. Even those who, like me, are not a "nuclear physicist", might be wary. I agree with Greenberg that latency of the neural responses has been largely underestimated. I am not sure whether place and temporal cues are really as comprehensive as for instance assumed by McKay, McDermott, and Carlyon (2000). Eckard Blumschein

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