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Volume 135, Issue 3, March 2014
- PHYSIOLOGICAL ACOUSTICS 
135(2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.4864475View Description Hide Description
Sound energy is conveyed to the inner ear by the diaphanous, cone-shaped tympanic membrane (TM). The TM moves in a complex manner and transmits sound signals to the inner ear with high fidelity, pressure gain, and a short delay. Miniaturized sensors allowing high spatial resolution in small spaces and sensitivity to high frequencies were used to explore how pressure drives the TM. Salient findings are: (1) A substantial pressure drop exists across the TM, and varies in frequency from ∼10 to 30 dB. It thus appears reasonable to approximate the drive to the TM as being defined solely by the pressure in the ear canal (EC) close to the TM. (2) Within the middle ear cavity (MEC), spatial variations in sound pressure could vary by more than 20 dB, and the MEC pressure at certain locations/frequencies was as large as in the EC. (3) Spatial variations in pressure along the TM surface on the EC-side were typically less than 5 dB up to 50 kHz. Larger surface variations were observed on the MEC-side.