1988-07-01

Otolith Biomechanics 881074

The otolith organs are the linear motion sensors of the mammalian system. As part of the vestibular system these small organs are located in the inner ear. Mathematically modeled, they consist of an overdamped second-order system with elastic, viscous damping, and mass elements. The governing equations of motion which describe the relative velocity of the mass with respect to the skull consist of a set of three coupled partial integral-differential equations. When these equations are nondimensionalized they yield three nondimensional parameters which characterize the dynamic response of the system. These nondimensional equations are solved numerically for the relative displacement of the otolith mass for various values of one of the three nondimensional parameters. The solutions generated are for a step change in skull velocity. These solutions indicate that the end organ long time response as well as limited maximum displacement requires a high degree of viscoelastic damping. Viscoelastic damping must come from the gelatinous material as postulated by early investigators [5].

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