Auditory Nerve Fiber Activity After Hair Cell Loss and Regeneration
Richard Salvi Principal Investigator
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In some animals regeneration of sensory or neural tissue can occur after damage. The implications are tremendous of understanding such repair mechanisms, to extend the knowledge to mammalian and human systems. The auditory organ of the inner ear is the cochlea in mammals, and in birds the comparable organ is also called the cochlea. Recent anatomical studies show that the receptor cells of the bird cochlea can regenerate after damage caused by intense noise or by certain drugs, and may establish connections with auditory nerve fibers. This study uses the powerful approach of electrophysiological recording from single auditory fibers, to compare the activity in normal ears with the activity in ears having regenerated tissue, to answer the fundamental question of whether functional recovery accompanies the anatomical regeneration. Results from this unique and needed work will have impact on sensory neuroscience, developmental neurobiology, and on biomedical engineering.