EDUCATION: Hearing Aid

Science  26 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5739, pp. 1307
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5739.1307a

Distinguishing the trill of a canary from the blare of a foghorn is a job for the cochlea, which transforms sounds entering the inner ear into nerve impulses that the brain can interpret. Students and researchers can study the cochlea's architecture and intricate workings at this detailed primer from Italian researchers Renato Nobili of the University of Padua and Fabio Mammano of the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine. The anatomy section dissects the coiled structure down to the vibration-detecting inner hair cells. Plentiful illustrations and animations can help you grasp the complexities of translating waves in the cochlea's fluid into nerve signals. The site also offers some aural history, highlighting pioneers such as Italy's Alfonso Corti, who first described the cochlea's internal organization including the organ of Corti, which houses the hair cells.

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