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In addition to receiving and processing sound stimuli, the ear is capable of producing sounds too. First described by British physicist David Kemp in 1978, otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are low-level sounds that are generated within the cochlea of the inner ear. These weak vibrations are transmitted outwardly through the middle ear to the ear canal, where they can be recorded with a sensitive microphone. This entry describes the mechanism that creates OAEs and the clinical use of OAEs.

Otoacoustic emissions arise from the miniscule movements of the outer hair cells (OHCs) in the cochlea. The OHCs structurally resemble the inner hair cells, which are true sensory cells in that they convert vibrations into neuroelectrical responses the brain understands. The OHCs, on the other hand, act ...

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