Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

It’s not over when it's over: Storing sounds in the inner ear

Date:
April 18, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Research shows that vibrations in the inner ear continue even after a sound has ended, perhaps serving as a kind of mechanical memory of recent sounds. In addition to contributing to the understanding of the complex process of sound perception, the results may shed light on other fascinating aspects of the auditory system, such as why some gaps between sounds are too brief to be perceived by the human ear.

Research shows that vibrations in the inner ear continue even after a sound has ended, perhaps serving as a kind of mechanical memory of recent sounds. In addition to contributing to the understanding of the complex process of sound perception, the results may shed light on other fascinating aspects of the auditory system, such as why some gaps between sounds are too brief to be perceived by the human ear.

Related Articles


The study is published by Cell Press in the April 5th issue of Biophysical Journal.

The inner ear contains a structure called the cochlea that serves as the organ of hearing. The cochlea is a coiled, fluid filled structure that contains a "basilar" membrane and associated "hair cells." Essentially, sound-evoked vibrations of the basilar membrane are sensed by the hair cells which in turn convey auditory information to the nervous system. Some hair cells respond to basilar membrane vibrations by producing forces that increase hearing sensitivity and frequency selectivity through mechanisms that are not completely understood. "Because hair cell force production is initiated by the acoustic stimulus, it was assumed to end when the stimulus was removed," says senior study author, Dr. Alfred L. Nuttall from the Oregon Hearing Research Center. "However, there is evidence that some tones produce vibrations that continue even after the end of the stimulus."

Using anaesthetized guinea pigs, Dr. Nuttall and colleagues recorded basilar membrane motion and hair cell related potentials in response to various sounds. They observed that after-vibrations were dependent on the magnitude and frequency of the sound stimuli and that even minor hearing loss elicited a profound reduction in after-vibrations. "The after-vibrations appear to be driven by sustained force production in the inner ear -- a form of short-term memory of past stimulations," says Dr. Nuttall. "It is important to point out that although our findings clearly document the existence of after-vibrations, further work is needed to elucidate the underlying mechanism."

The authors also discuss the potential relevance of after-vibrations for sound perception. "The ability to detect brief gaps in an ongoing stimulus is critical for speech recognition; gaps need to be longer than a minimal interval to be perceived," explains Dr. Nutall. "To the extent that after-vibrations excite the auditory nerve fibers, they may explain part of the difficulty in detecting such gaps."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jiefu Zheng, Sripriya Ramamoorthy, Tianying Ren, Wenxuan He, Dingjun Zha, Fangyi Chen, Anna Magnusson, Alfred L. Nuttall, Anders Fridberger. Persistence of Past Stimulations: Storing Sounds within the Inner Ear. Biophysical Journal, 2011; 100 (7): 1627-1634 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.02.025

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "It’s not over when it's over: Storing sounds in the inner ear." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122324.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, April 18). It’s not over when it's over: Storing sounds in the inner ear. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122324.htm
Cell Press. "It’s not over when it's over: Storing sounds in the inner ear." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405122324.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins