Essential nonlinearities in hearing

Eguiluz, Victor M.; Ospeck, M.; Choe, Y.; Hudspeth, A.J.; Magnasco, M.O.
Physical Review Letters 84, 5232-5235 (2000)

The individual elements of our hearing organ evidently poise
themselves at a Hopf bifurcation to maximize tuning and
amplification. We show that in this condition several
effects are expected to be generic: compression of the
dynamic range, infinitely sharp tuning at zero input, and
generation of combination tones. These effects are
"essentially" nonlinear in that they become more marked the
smaller the forcing: there is no sound soft enough not to
evoke them. All well-documented nonlinear aspects of hearing
therefore appear to be consequences of the same underlying

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