George Zweig

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Election Year: 1996
Primary Section: 13, Physics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

I am trying to discover how the information in sound is coded in the cochlea for analysis by the central nervous system. The mechanical structure of the cochlea contributes to the coding process by providing a distributed, energy-producing, nonlinear medium in which traveling waves compete for amplification and neural representation. I have used Mossbauer measurements of transverse wave velocity to deduce the partial differential equation governing wave propagation and predicted the characteristics of sound that appear in the ear canal when traveling waves are reflected from random mechanical inhomogeneities in the cochlea. By recording the sound produced in the ear canal by the cochlea in response to tones, I was able to verify those predictions. Currently I am investigating how measurements of such otoacoustic emissions can be used to determine noninvasively the mechanical state of the cochlea. My interest in cochlear mechanics stems in part from the possibility of abstracting principles of signal processing from an understanding of its operation. I developed two techniques for signal analysis--continuous wavelet transforms and inhomogeneous transmission lines with time-delay elements. Finally, with others at Signition, a company I founded ten years ago, I have created an exceptionally easy-to-use software package called the "SigniScope" for exploratory data analysis based on discrete and continuous wavelet transforms.

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