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Biophys J. 2009 Nov 18;97(10):2653-63. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.08.039.

Effectiveness of hair bundle motility as the cochlear amplifier.

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Biophysics Section, Laboratory of Cellular Biology, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland, USA.


The effectiveness of hair bundle motility in mammalian and avian ears is studied by examining energy balance for a small sinusoidal displacement of the hair bundle. The condition that the energy generated by a hair bundle must be greater than energy loss due to the shear in the subtectorial gap per hair bundle leads to a limiting frequency that can be supported by hair-bundle motility. Limiting frequencies are obtained for two motile mechanisms for fast adaptation, the channel re-closure model and a model that assumes that fast adaptation is an interplay between gating of the channel and the myosin motor. The limiting frequency obtained for each of these models is an increasing function of a factor that is determined by the morphology of hair bundles and the cochlea. Primarily due to the higher density of hair cells in the avian inner ear, this factor is approximately 10-fold greater for the avian ear than the mammalian ear, which has much higher auditory frequency limit. This result is consistent with a much greater significance of hair bundle motility in the avian ear than that in the mammalian ear.

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