Hair-trigger sensitivities in the inner ear

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Science  19 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6275, pp. 828-829
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6275.828-g

Hair cells of the mammalian ear respond to sound to initiate signals in the auditory pathway. As the pathway is assembled during early development, before hearing, the inner hair cells produce spontaneous spikes of Ca++ signaling. Young synapses between the inner hair cells and the spiral ganglion neurons, which produce action potentials, respond with hair-trigger sensitivity. Zhang-Hooks et al. show that N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors underlie these early hypersensitive responses. Even neighboring neurons are triggered, which serves to promote survival and coordinated responses as the hearing pathway is wired up.

Neuron 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.016 (2016).

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