Researchers have identified a molecule that can transform the mechanical stimulus of a sound wave into an electrical signal recognizable by the brain. The protein forms an ion channel that opens in response to sound, causing electrical impulses that communicate the pitch, volume, and duration of a sound to the brain.
Scientists have long suspected that such a molecule must exist in the tiny cilia extending from receptor cells in the inner ear. Now, researchers led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator David P. Corey, who is at Harvard Medical School, have several lines of evidence that, in vertebrates, this mechanosensitive channel is formed by a protein known as TRPA1. Certain features of the protein suggest that it may serve double, or even triple, duty in the inner ear, not only acting as an ion channel, but also forming a spring that allows the transduction machinery to stretch, and even amplifying incoming auditory signals. The work is published October 13, 2004, in an advance online publication of the journal Nature.
The cells that line the inner ear and convert mechanical sound vibrations into electrical impulses are known as hair cells – named for the tuft of 30-300 cilia, or microscopic hairs, on each cells surface. Thin filaments called tip links connect the channels in adjacent hairs, so that when a vibration stirs the bundle of cilia, the tip links are tightened and pull on the channels. Within 5 to 10 microseconds of this motion, channels in the hair cell open and allow ions to enter – the first step in sending a sound signal to the brain.
Jennifer Michalowski | EurekAlert!
A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
21.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences