Image of the Week

Good Vibrations

  • Published31 Aug 2015
  • Reviewed31 Aug 2015
  • Author Alexis Wnuk
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN
The cells in the cochlea are arranged like a wagon wheel, as seen above in a mouse. The green “spokes” carry signals to the brain while the cells in red send signals back from the brain to the cochlea. Scientists now know that the cells in red are particularly important for protecting hearing.
Druckenbrod, et al. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2015.

Our ability to hear depends on the sensory organs of the inner ear, including a snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. It contains sensory cells — called hair cells — that sense vibrations in the air and send electrical signals to the brain, allowing us to perceive sound. This image shows the cochlea of a neonatal mouse, with hair cells in red. Scientists have found that signals from brainstem nerve fibers (green) are important for the normal development and function of hair cells.

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