Sensing through non-sensory cells

Activity in non-sensory cells of the developing ear may help form neural pathways in hearing

Jonathan Scheff
Oct 30, 2007
A transient group of non-sensory cells in the developing cochlea, the hearing chamber of the inner ear, generates auditory activity in the absence of sound, according to a study published this week in Nature. This activity, present before the onset of hearing, may help form the auditory map in the brain, and may provide insights into hearing conditions such as tinnitus, the researchers say. "Understanding the cochlea in development has been left out in the progress of neuroscience," said Timothy Jones of East Carolina University in North Carolina, who was not involved in the research. "This study will be kindling. This will trigger a great interest in pre-hearing."During development, the ear gradually develops its ability to respond to auditory stimuli. Before the ear is capable of hearing, researchers have observed spontaneous activity in the auditory nerve that mimics the ear's response to sound but occurs without an external stimulus....

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