This paper describes a model for generating the hair cell receptor potential based on a second-order Boltzmann function. The model includes only the resistive elements of the hair cell membranes with batteries across them and the series resistance of the external return path of the transducer current through the tissue of the cochlea. The model provides a qualitative description of signal processing by the hair cell transducer and shows that the nonlinearity of the hair cell transducer can give rise to nonlinear phenomena, such as intermodulation distortion products and two-tone suppression with patterns similar to those which have been recorded from the peripheral auditory system. Particular outcomes of the model are the demonstration that two-tone suppression depends not on the saturation of the receptor current, but on the behaviour of the hair cell transducer function close to the operating point. The model also shows that there is non-monotonic growth and phase change for any spectral component, but not for the fundamental of the receptor potential.

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