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Shear Traveling Waves of the Tectorial Membrane

When the TM is suspended in fluid, radial shear forces applied at one location propagate longitudinally along the TM. The image shows an enhanced view of this wave propagation, where the motion of the TM has been exaggerated to make it visible. From the amplitude and speed of wave propagation, we can derive material properties of the TM such as its shear and loss moduli. More important, these traveling waves are almost certainly present in vivo, where they contribute significantly to the sensitivity and frequency selectivity of the cochlea.