The influence of cochlear shape on low-frequency hearing
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The conventional theory about the snail shell shape of the mammalian cochlea is that it evolved essentially and perhaps solely to conserve space inside the skull. Recently, a theory proposed that the spiral's graded curvature enhances the cochlea's mechanical response to low frequencies. This article provides a multispecies analysis of cochlear shape to test this theory and demonstrates that the ratio of the radii of curvature from the outermost and innermost turns of the cochlear spiral is a significant cochlear feature that correlates strongly with low-frequency hearing limits. The ratio, which is a measure of curvature gradient, is a reflection of the ability of cochlear curvature to focus acoustic energy at the outer wall of the cochlear canal as the wave propagates toward the apex of the cochlea.
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