In vivo processing of acoustic information in the mammalian cochlea and brain


  • Prof Walter Marcotti

    University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Project summary

Sound is detected by extremely sensitive sensory cells, called hair cells, located in the inner ear. Hair cells detect information carried by sound (e.g. frequency, intensity and timing) and, with great precision, convert them into tiny electrical impulses that are sent to the brain via specialized auditory nerve fibres. This allows us to perceive speech and music. Our current understanding of how hair cells perform such a complex task comes from studies on tissue, which lacks crucial functional and morphological elements present in the intact system. This largely limits our knowledge and any future developments towards a cure for hearing-related disorders. The present work will be the first to identify the mechanisms required to control the development, function and ageing of the auditory system from the hair cells to the brain in a living mammal, which will pave the way for developing treatments for hearing loss and deafness.