Structural Organization of the Mammalian Auditory Hair Cells in Relation to Micromechanics
The mammalian auditory sensory cells are mechano-receptors characterized by sensory stereocilia, the cuticular plate, and the polarized cell body, innervated by the afferent and efferent nerve endings. The auditory sensory cells in mammals are further specialized into two functional groups (inner hair cells vs. outer hair cells) that are morphologically distinct from each other with differing innervation patterns. There is good evidence to suggest that the inner hair cells are largely responsible for auditory sensitivity and the outer hair cells are responsible for auditory tuning (Liberman & Kiang, 1984). The role of the outer hair cell in frequency selectivity is thought to be the result of its interaction with the inner hair cell. Recent evidence suggests that the outer hair cell of the cochlea is motile. It has been suggested that this outer hair cell motility is responsible for generating the otoacoustic emission and tuning of the auditory sensory response by exerting influence on the micromechanical environment of the inner hair cell stereociliary bundles. Thus, motile activity of the outer hair cell may have a direct bearing on the micromechanics of the cochlea. This paper is an attempt to review the current data of the sub-structural organization of the mammalian auditory hair cell that are relevant to the sensory transduction process and cell motility.
KeywordsHair Cell Outer Hair Cell Hair Bundle Efferent Nerve Ending Cuticular Plate
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