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Published 1990 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

An Analog Electronic Cochlea


An engineered system that hears, such as a speech recognizer, can be designed by modeling the cochlea, or inner ear, and higher levels of the auditory nervous system. To be useful in such a system, a model of the cochlea should incorporate a variety of known effects, such as an asymmetric low-pass/bandpass response at each output channel, a short ringing time, and active adaptation to a wide range of input signal levels. An analog electronic cochlea has been built in CMOS VLSI technology using micropower techniques to achieve this goal of usefulness via realism. The key point of the model and circuit is that a cascade of simple, nearly linear, second-order filter stages with controllable Q parameters suffices to capture the physics of the fluid-dynamic traveling-wave system in the cochlea, including the effects of adaptation and active gain involving the outer hair cells. Measurements on the test chip suggest that the circuit matches both the theory and observations from real cochleas.

Additional Information

Copyright © 1988 by The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. Reprinted from Transactions on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, Vol. 36, No. 7, July 1988, pages 1119-1134. Manuscript received February 22, 1988. This work was supported by the System Development Foundation and by Schlumberger Palo Alto Research. IEEE Log Number 8821363. The assistance of DARPA's MOSIS chip fabrication service was vital to this research and is greatly appreciated.

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