A new auditory phenomenon has been identified in the acoustic impulse response of the human ear. Using a signal averaging technique, a study has been made of the response of the closed external acoustic meatus to acoustic impulses near to the threshold of audibility. Particular attention has been paid to the waveform of the response at post excitation times in excess of 5 ms. No previous worker appears to have extended observations into this region. The response observed after about 5 ms is not a simple extension of the initial response attributable to the middle ear. The oscillatory response decay time constant was found to change from approximately 1 ms to over 12 ms at about this time. The slowly decaying response conponent was present in all normal ears tested, but was not present in ears with cochlear deafness. This component of the response appears to have its origin in some nonlinear mechanism probably located in the cochlea, responding mechanically to auditory stimulation, and dependent upon the normal functioning of the cochlea transduction process. A cochlear reflection hypothesis received some support from these results.

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