Title page for ETD etd-08012012-040542

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cotton, John Rowland
URN etd-08012012-040542
Title A viscoelastic model for the response of a step change in velocity of the human otolith organs
Degree Master of Science
Department Engineering Mechanics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Grant, John Wallace Committee Chair
Schneck, Daniel J. Committee Member
Swift, George W. Committee Member
  • Otoliths
Date of Defense 1989-11-15
Availability restricted
The otolith organs are housed in the inner ear and are responsible for sensing accelerations

and gravity. These inertial sensing systems are modeled in this thesis as a three

material system consisting of a rigid otoconial plate attached to the skull by a gel layer, surrounded

by a viscous endolymph fluid. The gel layer is considered to be a viscoelastic solid,

and modeled as a simple Kelvin element. The governing differential equations are derived

and nondimensionalized, yielding three nondimensional parameters: nondimensional density,

R, nondimensional viscosity, M, and nondimensional elasticity, 6. The equations are

solved using ünite difference techniques on a digital computer. By comparing the model’s

response with previous biological research, values for the nondimensional parameters are

found. The value of R is 0.75 and the value of 6 is between 0.3 and 0.075. While the value

of M is placed between 5. and 10., results indicate that to properly model the long time

response of the otolith, a single and constant value for viscosity is not feasible.

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