Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mechanism of hearing is similar to car battery, researcher learns

Date:
January 7, 2013
Source:
University of Iowa
Summary:
Biologists have shown that one of the mechanisms involved in hearing is similar to the battery in your car. And if that isn't interesting enough, the scientists advanced their knowledge of human hearing by studying a similar auditory system in fruit flies -- and by making use of the fruit fly "love song."

Located within the antenna of a fruit fly, the auditory organ (pictured) is shown being activated in response to the fruit fly love song. The sodium pump is stained in green, while blue highlights nuclei and red stains the cytoskeletal protein, actin.
Credit: Image provided by Madhuparna Roy

University of Iowa biologist Daniel Eberl and his colleagues have shown that one of the mechanisms involved in hearing is similar to the battery in your car.

And if that isn't interesting enough, the UI scientists advanced their knowledge of human hearing by studying a similar auditory system in fruit flies -- and by making use of the fruit fly "love song."

To see how the mechanism of hearing resembles a battery, you need to know that the auditory system of the fruit fly contains a protein that functions as a sodium/potassium pump, often called the sodium pump for short, and is highly expressed in a specialized support cell called the scolopale cell.

The scolopale cell is important because it wraps around the sensory endings in the fly's ear and makes a tight extra-cellular cavity or compartment around them called the scolopale space.

"You could think of these compartments as similar to the compartments of a battery that need to be charged up so they can drive electrons through circuits," says Eberl, whose paper made the cover of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In the auditory system, the charge in the scolopale space drives ions, or electrically charged atoms, through membrane channels in the sensory endings that open briefly in response to activation by sounds.

"Our work shows that the sodium pump plays a particularly important role in this cell to help replenish or recharge this compartment with the right ions. The human ear also relies on a compartment called the scala media, which similarly drives ions into the sensory cells of the ear," he says.

How was the research done? This is where the fruit fly love song comes into play.

Testing whether or not a fruit fly can hear the love song -- a sound generated by a vibrating wing -- enables Eberl to learn whether electrical recharging is occurring in the fly ear. The fruit fly love song played a role in the research by stimulating the fly to move whenever a sound was emitted and received.

"In these experiments we tested the fly's hearing by inserting tiny electrodes in the fly's antenna, then measuring the electrical responses when we play back computer-generated love songs," he says.

Eberl notes there are many similarities between fruit fly and human mechanisms of hearing. That means his work on the fly model to identify additional new components required for generating the correct ion balance in the ear will help scientists to understand the human process in more detail.

Eberl's co-authors on the paper areMadhuparna Roy, postdoctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh, and Elena Sivan-Loukianova, UI biology research scientist. At the time of the research, Roy was a graduate student in the UI Graduate College studying in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Biology.

The title of the paper, published last week, is "Cell-type-specific roles of Na+/K+ ATPase subunits in Drosophila auditory mechanosensation."

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant number 5P30DC010362-03) and the Iowa Center for Molecular Auditory Neuroscience at the UI (grant number P30DC010362).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Roy, E. Sivan-Loukianova, D. F. Eberl. From the Cover: Cell-type-specific roles of Na /K ATPase subunits in Drosophila auditory mechanosensation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 110 (1): 181 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1208866110

Cite This Page:

University of Iowa. "Mechanism of hearing is similar to car battery, researcher learns." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107145707.htm>.
University of Iowa. (2013, January 7). Mechanism of hearing is similar to car battery, researcher learns. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107145707.htm
University of Iowa. "Mechanism of hearing is similar to car battery, researcher learns." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130107145707.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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