Mason Bretan

Technology, Art, and Science
   Home            Hearing Research: Cochlear Fluids Laboratory
 Washington University in St. Louis
School of Medicine
Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory
Department of Otolaryngology
Currently the lab is researching a couple different topics.  The first entails a cochlear microphonic produced by an ear compartment other than the hair cells when an infrasonic stimuli is introduced.  The microphonic is produced in perilymph rather than endolymph in the Scala media (where the organ of corti is located).   Though at this point we are uncertain just why this infrasonic stimulated microphonic is produced it is fascinating to theorize.  Perhaps the inner ear may a act as a natural active noise canceling system to prevent low frequency noises (such as from when we cough) from severely damaging the ear.  To learn more about this visit the main web page for the lab where you can see publications.
The second topic involves the development of cochlear fluids simulation software.  Alec Salt, Ph.D. developed software several years ago that models drug injections into the inner ear (a version is available for download on the main web page).  This new model greatly expands on the original in terms of accuracy, complexity, and capabilities.  Take a look at a more in depth description of the new software below.  We are hoping for a release date sometime this spring and to include a human model this fall.  Labs from all over the world have already expressed great excitement for the new release!
Washington University Cochlear Fluids Simulation 3.0

Here is a screenshot of the new model.  It will consist of multiple cochlear compartments including
    Scala Tympani
    Scala Media
    Scala Vestibuli
    Organ of Corti
    Spiral Ligament
    Spiral Ganglion Cells
    Auditory Nerve
    Lateral Canal
    Posterior Canal
    Anterior Canal
    Round Window
The application will include a command-line interface where scripting is possible to run multiple simulations, a multitude of simulation parameters and delivery methods, 3D view of all of the compartments, point and range markers for measurement, sampling, ability to collect 3D data to plot graphs (automatically saves in an easy to read text file in Sigma Plot format), communications between each scalae, accurate display of cross sectional areas for each scale, versions for PC, Mac, and Linux, much more!
Here is an example of another simulation with communication view of Scala Vestibuli and the Lateral canal.
Concentration graphs as functions of distance and time
A few of the delivery methods available.  Currently it includes iontophoresis, injection, and round window applications.  Though there are more to come.
The ability to view and save all concentration, cross sectional area, and three-dimensional data.  This shows concentrations for a scala vestibuli iontophoresis application at each tenth of a millimeter after 30 seconds.  
3D view of the inner ear with user changeable camera view and ability to see specific compartments and how they really align with one another.