A healthy ear is much better at detecting and transmitting sound than even the most advanced hearing aid. But now researchers reporting in the Biophysical Journal, a Cell Press publication, have uncovered new insights into how the ear — in particular, the cochlea — processes and amplifies sound. The findings could be used for the development of better devices to improve hearing.
Sound-sensing cells within the cochlea — called hair cells due to the presence of cilia on their membrane surfaces — vibrate strongly at different sound frequencies depending on their location. To examine the cochlear electro-mechanics responsible for this process, Dr. Elizabeth Olson and Dr. Wei Dong, both of Columbia University, designed tiny sensors that