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Neuron. 2005 Nov 3;48(3):403-15.

Hair-cell mechanotransduction and cochlear amplification.

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Oregon Hearing Research Center and Vollum Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.


In the inner ear, sensory hair cells not only detect but also amplify the softest sounds, allowing us to hear over an extraordinarily wide intensity range. This amplification is frequency specific, giving rise to exquisite frequency discrimination. Hair cells detect sounds with their mechanotransduction apparatus, which is only now being dissected molecularly. Signal detection is not the only role of this molecular network; amplification of low-amplitude signals by hair bundles seems to be universal in hair cells. "Fast adaptation," the rapid closure of transduction channels following a mechanical stimulus, appears to be intimately involved in bundle-based amplification.

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