New findings on the workings of the inner ear
The sensory cells of the inner ear have tiny hairs called stereocilia that play a critical part in hearing. It has long been known that these stereocilia move sideways back and forth in a wave-like motion when stimulated by a sound wave. After having designed a microscope to observe these movements, a research team at Karolinska Institutet has discovered that the hairs not only move sideways but also change in length.
The discovery, which was made in collaboration with scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, USA provides new fundamental knowledge about the mechanisms of hearing. It is presented in the online scientific journal Nature Communications.