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By David Noonan Neuroscientist James Hudspeth has basically been living inside the human ear for close to 50 years. In that time Hudspeth, head of the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University, has dramatically advanced scientists’ understanding of how the ear and brain work together to process sound. Last week his decades of groundbreaking research were recognized by the Norwegian Academy of Science, which awarded him the million-dollar Kavli Prize in Neuroscience. Hudspeth shared the prize with two other hearing researchers: Robert Fettiplace from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Christine Petit from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Advertisement As Hudspeth explored the neural mechanisms of hearing over the years, he developed a special appreciation for the intricate anatomy of the inner ear—an appreciation that transcends the laboratory. “I think we as scientists tend to underemphasize the aesthetic aspect of science,” he says. “Yes, science is the disinterested investigation into the nature of things. But it is more like art than not. It’s something that one does for the beauty of it, and in the hope of understanding what has heretofore been hidden. Here’s something incredibly beautiful, like the inner ear, performing a really remarkable function. How can that be? How does it do it?” After learning of his Kavli Prize on Thursday, Hudspeth spoke with Scientific American about his work and how the brain transforms physical vibration into the experience of a symphony. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 25055 - Posted: 06.04.2018

By Abby Olena Activating or suppressing neuronal activity with ultrasound has shown promise both in the lab and the clinic, based on the ability to focus noninvasive, high-frequency sound waves on specific brain areas. But in mice and guinea pigs, it appears that the technique has effects that scientists didn’t expect. In two studies published today (May 24) in Neuron, researchers demonstrate that ultrasound activates the brains of rodents by stimulating an auditory response—not, as researchers had presumed, only the specific neurons where the ultrasound is focused. “These papers are a very good warning to folks who are trying to use ultrasound as a tool to manipulate brain activity,” says Raag Airan, a neuroradiologist and researcher at Stanford University Medical Center who did not participate in either study, but coauthored an accompanying commentary. “In doing these experiments going forward [the hearing component] is something that every single experimenter is going to have to think about and control,” he adds. Over the past decade, researchers have used ultrasound to elicit electrical responses from cells in culture and motor and sensory responses from the brains of rodents and primates. Clinicians have also used so-called ultrasonic neuromodulation to treat movement disorders. But the mechanism by which high frequency sound waves work to exert their influence is not well understood. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 25025 - Posted: 05.26.2018

By Maya Salam Three years ago, the internet melted down over the color of a dress. Now an audio file has friends, family members and office mates questioning one another’s hearing, and their own. Is the robot voice saying “Yanny” or “Laurel”? The clip picked up steam after a debate erupted on Reddit this week, and it has since been circulated widely on social media. One Reddit user said: “I hear Laurel and everyone is a liar.” “They are saying they hear ‘Yanny’ because they want attention,” a tweet read. Others claimed they heard one word for a while, then the other — or even both simultaneously. It didn’t take long for the auditory illusion to be referred to as “black magic.” And more than one person online yearned for that simpler time in 2015, when no one could decide whether the mother of the bride wore white and gold or blue and black. It was a social media frenzy in which internet trends and traffic on the topic spiked so high that Wikipedia itself now has a simple entry, “The dress.” Of course, in the grand tradition of internet reportage, we turned to a scientist to make this article legitimately newsworthy. Dr. Jody Kreiman, a principal investigator at the voice perception laboratory at the University of California, Los Angeles, helpfully guessed on Tuesday afternoon that “the acoustic patterns for the utterance are midway between those for the two words.” “The energy concentrations for Ya are similar to those for La,” she said. “N is similar to r; I is close to l.” She cautioned, though, that more analysis would be required to sort out the discrepancy. That did not stop online sleuths from trying to find the answer by manipulating the bass, pitch or volume. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness
Link ID: 24983 - Posted: 05.16.2018

By Roni Dengler Hoary bats are habitual squawkers. Sporting frosted brown fur á la Guy Fieri, the water balloon–size bats bark high-pitched yips to navigate the dark night sky by echolocation. But a new study reveals that as they fly, those cries often drop to a whisper, or even silence, suggesting the bats may steer themselves through the darkness with some of the quietest sonar on record. To find out how hoary bats navigate, researchers used infrared cameras and ultrasonic microphones to record scores of them flying through a riverside corridor in California on five autumn nights. In about half of the nearly 80 flights, scientists captured a novel type of call. Shorter, faster, and quieter than their usual calls, the new “micro” calls use three orders of magnitude less sound energy than other bats’ yaps did, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. As bats approached objects, they would often quickly increase the volume of their calls. But in close to half the flights, researchers did not pick up any calls at all. This stealth flying mode may explain one sad fact of hoary bat life: They suffer more fatal run-ins with wind turbines than other bat species in North America. The microcalls are so quiet that they reduce the distance over which bats can detect large and small objects by more than three times. That also cuts bats’ reaction time by two-thirds, making them too slow to catch their insect prey. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24928 - Posted: 05.02.2018

By Abby Olena At both three and nine weeks after guinea pigs’ cochleae were treated with nanoparticles loaded with Hes1 siRNA, the authors observed what are likely immature hair cells. MODIFIED FROM X. DU ET AL., MOLECULAR THERAPY, 2018Loud sounds, infections, toxins, and aging can all cause hearing loss by damaging so-called hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear. In a study published today (April 18) in Molecular Therapy, researchers stimulated hair cell renewal with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) delivered via nanoparticles to the cochlea of adult guinea pigs, restoring some of the animals’ hearing. “There are millions of people suffering from deafness” caused by hair cell loss, says Zheng-Yi Chen, who studies hair cell regeneration at Harvard University and was not involved in the work. “If you can regenerate hair cells, then we really have potential to target treatment for those patients.” Some vertebrates—chickens and zebrafish, for instance—regenerate their hair cells after damage. Hair cells of mammals, on the other hand, don’t sprout anew after being damaged, explaining why injuries can cause life-long hearing impairments. Recent research suggests that there might be a workaround, by manipulating signaling pathways that can lead to hair cell differentiation. That’s where Richard Kopke comes in. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24908 - Posted: 04.27.2018

By Jeremy Rehm Whales can sing, buzz, and even whisper to one another, but one thing has remained unknown about these gregarious giants: how they hear. Given the size of some whales and their ocean home, studying even the basics of these mammals has proved challenging. But two researchers have now developed a way to determine how baleen whales such as humpbacks hear their low-frequency (10- to 200-hertz) chatter, and they found some bone-rattling results. Baleen whales have a maze of ear bones that fuse to their skull, leading scientists to suppose the skull helps whales hear. Under this premise, the researchers used a computerized tomography scanner meant for rockets to scan the preserved bodies of a minke whale calf (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and a fin whale calf (B. physalus), both of which had stranded themselves along U.S. coasts years before and died during rescue operations. Their preserved bodies were kept as scientific specimens. The researchers used these body scans (an example of which is displayed above) to produce 3D computer models to study how the skull responded to different sound frequencies. The skull acts like an antenna, the scientists reported today in San Diego, California, at the 2018 Experimental Biology conference, vibrating as sound waves impact it and then transmitting those vibrations to the whale’s ears. For ease of viewing, the scientists amplified the vibrations 20,000 times. Whale skulls were especially sensitive to the low-frequency sounds they speak with, the researchers found, but large shipping vessels also produce these frequencies. This new information could now help large-scale shipping industries and policymakers establish regulations to minimize the effects of humanmade noise on these ocean giants. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24891 - Posted: 04.24.2018

Rachel Ehrenberg BOSTON — Getting your groove on solo with headphones on might be your jam, but it can’t compare with a live concert. Just ask your brain. When people watch live music together, their brains waves synchronize, and this brain bonding is linked with having a better time. The new findings, reported March 27 at a Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting, are a reminder that humans are social creatures. In western cultures, performing music is generally reserved for the tunefully talented, but this hasn’t been true through much of human history. “Music is typically linked with ritual and in most cultures is associated with dance,” said neuroscientist Jessica Grahn of Western University in London, Canada. “It’s a way to have social participation.” Study participants were split into groups of 20 and experienced music in one of three ways. Some watched a live concert with a large audience, some watched a recording of the concert with a large audience, and some watched the recording with only a few other people. Each person wore EEG caps, headwear covered with electrodes that measure the collective behavior of the brain’s nerve cells. The musicians played an original song they wrote for the study. The delta brain waves of audience members who watched the music live were more synchronized than those of people in the other two groups. Delta brain waves fall in a frequency range that roughly corresponds to the beat of the music, suggesting that beat drives the synchronicity, neuroscientist Molly Henry, a member of Grahn’s lab, reported. The more synchronized a particular audience member was with others, the more he or she reported feeling connected to the performers and enjoying the show. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 24800 - Posted: 03.30.2018

By VERONIQUE GREENWOOD Ears are a peculiarly individual piece of anatomy. Those little fleshy seashells, whether they stick out or hang low, can be instantly recognizable in family portraits. And they aren’t just for show. Researchers have discovered that filling in an external part of the ear with a small piece of silicone drastically changes people’s ability to tell whether a sound came from above or below. But given time, the scientists show in a paper published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience, the brain adjusts to the new shape, regaining the ability to pinpoint sounds with almost the same accuracy as before. Scientists already knew that our ability to tell where a sound is coming from arises in part from sound waves arriving at our ears at slightly different times. If a missing cellphone rings from the couch cushions to your right, the sound reaches your right ear first and your left ear slightly later. Then, your brain tells you where to look. But working out whether a sound is emanating from high up on a bookshelf or under the coffee table is not dependent on when the sound reaches your ears. Instead, said Régis Trapeau, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal and author of the new paper, the determination involves the way the sound waves bounce off outer parts of your ear. Curious to see how the brain processed this information, the researchers set up a series of experiments using a dome of speakers, ear molds made of silicone and an fMRI machine to record brain activity. Before being fitted with the pieces of silicone, volunteers heard a number of sounds played around them and indicated where they thought the noises were coming from. In the next session, the same participants listened to the same sounds with the ear molds in. This time it was clear that something was very different. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24727 - Posted: 03.07.2018

By DOUGLAS QUENQUA Claudio Mello was conducting research in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest about 20 years ago when he heard a curious sound. It was high-pitched and reedy, like a pin scratching metal. A cricket? A tree frog? No, a hummingbird. At least that’s what Dr. Mello, a behavioral neuroscientist at Oregon Health and Science University, concluded at the time. Despite extensive deforestation, the Atlantic Forest is one of Earth’s great cradles of biological diversity. It is home to about 2,200 species of animals, including about 40 species of hummingbirds. The variety of hummingbirds makes it difficult to isolate specific noises without sophisticated listening or recording devices. In 2015, Dr. Mello returned to the forest with microphones used to record high-frequency bat noises. The recordings he made confirmed that the calls were coming from black jacobin hummingbirds. The species is found in other parts of South America, too, and researchers are unsure whether the sound is emitted by males, females or both, although they have confirmed that juvenile black jacobins do not make them. When Dr. Mello and his team analyzed the noise — a triplet of syllables produced in rapid succession — they discovered it was well above the normal hearing range of birds. Peak hearing sensitivity for most birds is believed to rest between two to three kilohertz. (Humans are most sensitive to noises between one and four kilohertz.) “No one has ever described that a bird can hear even above 8, 9 kilohertz,” said Dr. Mello. But “the fundamental frequency of those calls was above 10 kilohertz,” he said. “That’s what was really amazing.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24725 - Posted: 03.06.2018

By CHRISTOPHER MELE A persistent noise of unknown origin, sometimes compared to a truck idling or distant thunder, has bedeviled a Canadian city for years, damaging people’s health and quality of life, numerous residents say. Those who hear it have compared it to a fleet of diesel engines idling next to your home or the pulsation of a subwoofer at a concert. Others report it rattling their windows and spooking their pets. Known as the Windsor Hum, this sound in Windsor, Ontario, near Detroit, is unpredictable in its duration, timing and intensity, making it all the more maddening for those affected. “You know how you hear of people who have gone out to secluded places to get away from certain sounds or noises and the like?” Sabrina Wiese posted in a private Facebook group dedicated to finding the source of the noise. “I’ve wanted to do that many times in the past year or so because it has gotten so bad,” she wrote. “Imagine having to flee all you know and love just to have a chance to hear nothing humming in your head for hours on end.” Since reports of it surfaced in 2011, the hum has been studied by the Canadian government, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor. Activists have done their own sleuthing. Over six years, Mike Provost of Windsor, who helps run the Facebook page, has amassed more than 4,000 pages of daily observations about the duration, intensity and characteristics of the sound and the weather conditions at the time. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24681 - Posted: 02.19.2018

Dan Garisto If you’ve ever felt the urge to tap along to music, this research may strike a chord. Recognizing rhythms doesn’t involve just parts of the brain that process sound — it also relies on a brain region involved with movement, researchers report online January 18 in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. When an area of the brain that plans movement was disabled temporarily, people struggled to detect changes in rhythms. The study is the first to connect humans’ ability to detect rhythms to the posterior parietal cortex, a brain region associated with planning body movements as well as higher-level functions such as paying attention and perceiving three dimensions. “When you’re listening to a rhythm, you’re making predictions about how long the time interval is between the beats and where those sounds will fall,” says coauthor Jessica Ross, a neuroscience graduate student at the University of California, Merced. These predictions are part of a system scientists call relative timing, which helps the brain process repetitive sounds, like a musical rhythm. “Music is basically sounds that have a structure in time,” says Sundeep Teki, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford who was not involved with the study. Studies like this, which investigate where relative timing takes place in the brain, could be crucial to understanding how the brain deciphers music, he says. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 24675 - Posted: 02.17.2018

Dana Boebinger Roughly 15 percent of Americans report some sort of hearing difficulty; trouble understanding conversations in noisy environments is one of the most common complaints. Unfortunately, there’s not much doctors or audiologists can do. Hearing aids can amplify things for ears that can’t quite pick up certain sounds, but they don’t distinguish between the voice of a friend at a party and the music in the background. The problem is not only one of technology, but also of brain wiring. Most hearing aid users say that even with their hearing aids, they still have difficulty communicating in noisy environments. As a neuroscientist who studies speech perception, this issue is prominent in much of my own research, as well as that of many others. The reason isn’t that they can’t hear the sounds; it’s that their brains can’t pick out the conversation from the background chatter. Harvard neuroscientists Dan Polley and Jonathon Whitton may have found a solution, by harnessing the brain’s incredible ability to learn and change itself. They have discovered that it may be possible for the brain to relearn how to distinguish between speech and noise. And the key to learning that skill could be a video game. People with hearing aids often report being frustrated with how their hearing aids handle noisy situations; it’s a key reason many people with hearing loss don’t wear hearing aids, even if they own them. People with untreated hearing loss – including those who don’t wear their hearing aids – are at increased risk of social isolation, depression and even dementia. © 2010–2018, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24618 - Posted: 02.06.2018

By Jim Daley Researchers at the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Brazil have created an algorithm that can use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data to identify which musical pieces participants are listening to. The study, published last Friday (February 2) in Scientific Reports, involved six participants listening to 40 pieces of music from various genres, including classical, rock, pop, and jazz. “Our approach was capable of identifying musical pieces with improving accuracy across time and spatial coverage,” the researchers write in the paper. “It is worth noting that these results were obtained for a heterogeneous stimulus set . . . including distinct emotional categories of joy and tenderness.” The researchers first played different musical pieces for the participants and used fMRI to measure the neural signatures of each song. With that data, they taught a computer to identify brain activity that corresponded with the musical dimensions of each piece, including tonality, rhythm, and timbre, as well as a set of lower-level acoustic features. Then, the researchers played the pieces for the participants again while the computer tried to identify the music each person was listening to, based on fMRI responses. The computer was successful in decoding the fMRI information and identifying the musical pieces around 77 percent of the time when it had two options to choose from. When the researchers presented 10 possibilities, the computer was correct 74 percent of the time. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 24617 - Posted: 02.06.2018

By Matt Warren The cheetah is built for running, with long limbs and powerful muscles that propel it along as it chases down its prey. But a new study has found that the world’s fastest land mammal has another, less obvious adaptation hidden away in its inner ear. Scientists suspected that the cheetah might also rely on a specialized vestibular system, the part of the inner ear that detects head movements and helps animals maintain their gaze and posture. Using computerized tomography scans, they created detailed 3D images of the inner ear from the skulls of cheetahs and other cat species, from leopards to domestic cats. They found that the vestibular system took up a much greater part of the inner ear in cheetahs than in any other cat. The cheetahs also had elongated semicircular canals, parts of the system involved in head movement and eye direction. These features help the animal catch dinner by letting it keep its head still and its eyes on the prize, even when the rest of its body is rapidly moving, the researchers write in Scientific Reports. The extinct giant cheetah did not have the same features, suggesting that the distinct vestibular system evolved fairly recently, they say. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24607 - Posted: 02.03.2018

By Kimberly Hickok A rooster’s crow is so loud, it can deafen you if you stand too close. So how do the birds keep their hearing? To find out, researchers attached recorders to the heads of three roosters, just below the base of their skulls. Crows lasted 1 to 2 seconds and averaged more than 130 decibels. That’s about the same intensity as standing 15 meters away from a jet taking off. One rooster’s crows reached more than 143 decibels, which is more like standing in the middle of an active aircraft carrier. The researchers then used a micro–computerized tomography scan to create a 3D x-ray image of the birds’ skulls. When a rooster’s beak is fully open, as it is when crowing, a quarter of the ear canal completely closes and soft tissue covers 50% of the eardrum, the team reports in a paper in press at Zoology. This means roosters aren’t capable of hearing their own crows at full strength. The intensity of a rooster’s crow diminishes greatly with distance, so it probably doesn’t cause significant hearing loss in nearby hens. But if it did, she’d likely be OK. Unlike mammals, birds can quickly regenerate hair cells in the inner ear if they become damaged. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24542 - Posted: 01.20.2018

Alison Abbott The brain’s navigation system — which keeps track of where we are in space — also monitors the movements of others, experiments in bats and rats suggest. In a study published in Science1 on 11 January, neuroscientists in Israel pinpoint individual brain cells that seem specialized to track other animals or objects. These cells occur in the same region of the brain — the hippocampus — as cells that are known to map a bat’s own location. In a second paper2, scientists in Japan report finding similar brain activity when rats watched other rats moving. The unexpected findings deepen insight into the mammalian brain’s complex navigation system. Bats and rats are social animals that, like people, need to know the locations of other members of their group so that they can interact, learn from each other and move around together. Researchers have already discovered several different types of cell whose signals combine to tell an animal where it is: ‘place’ cells, for example, fire when animals are in a particular location, whereas other types correspond to speed or head direction, or even act as a kind of compass. The latest reports mark the first discovery of cells that are attuned to other animals, rather than the self. “Obviously, the whereabouts of others must be encoded somewhere in the brain, but it is intriguing to see that it seems be in the same area that tracks self,” says Edvard Moser, a neuroscientist at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim, Norway, who shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for revealing elements of the navigation system. © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24523 - Posted: 01.12.2018

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent Deafness has been prevented in mice using gene editing for the first time, in an advance that could transform future treatment of genetic hearing loss. The study found that a single injection of a gene editing cocktail prevented progressive deafness in baby animals that were destined to lose their hearing. “We hope that the work will one day inform the development of a cure for certain forms of genetic deafness in people,” said Prof David Liu, who led the work at Harvard University and MIT. Nearly half of all cases of deafness have a genetic root, but current treatment options are limited. However, the advent of new high-precision gene editing tools such as Crispr has raised the prospect of a new class of therapies that target the underlying problem. The study, published in the journal Nature, focused on a mutation in a gene called Tmc1, a single wrong letter in the genetic code, that causes the loss of the inner ear’s hair cells over time. The delicate hairs, which sit in a spiral-shaped organ called the cochlea, vibrate in response to sound waves. Nerve cells pick up the physical motion and transmit it to the brain, where it is perceived as sound. If a child inherits one copy of the mutated Tmc1 gene they will suffer progressive hearing loss, normally starting in the first decade of life and resulting in profound deafness within 10 to 15 years. However, since most people affected by the mutation will also have a healthy version of the gene, inherited from their other parent, the scientists wanted to explore whether deleting the faulty version worked as a treatment. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24449 - Posted: 12.21.2017

by Ben Guarino Each year between February and June, the fish gather to spawn in Mexico's Colorado River Delta. The fish, a type of croaker called the Gulf corvina, meet in water as cloudy as chocolate milk. It's a reunion for the entire species, all members of which reproduce within a dozen-mile stretch of the delta. When the time is right, a few days before the new or full moons, the male fish begin to sing. To humans, the sound is machine guns going off just below the waterline. To female fish, the rapid burr-burr-burr is a Bing Crosby croon. Make that Bing cranked up to 11. Marine biologists who recorded the sound describe the animals as the “loudest fish ever documented,” said Timothy J. Rowell, at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. Rowell and Brad E. Erisman, a University of Texas at Austin fisheries scientist, spent four days in 2014 snooping on the fish with sonar and underwater microphones. The land surrounding the delta is desolate, Rowell said. Fresh water that once fed wild greenery has been diverted to faucets and hoses. But the delta is alive with the sound of fish. “When you arrive at the channels of the delta, you can hear it in the air even while the engine is running on the boat,” Rowell said. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24443 - Posted: 12.20.2017

Scientists have found a new way to explain the hearing loss caused by cisplatin, a powerful drug used to treat many forms of cancer. Using a highly sensitive technique to measure and map cisplatin in mouse and human inner ear tissues, researchers found that forms of cisplatin build up in the inner ear. They also found a region in the inner ear that could be targeted for efforts to prevent hearing loss from cisplatin. The study is published in Nature Communications (link is external), and was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communications Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health. Cisplatin and similar platinum-based drugs are prescribed for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all cancer patients. The NIH’s National Cancer Institute supported research that led to the 1965 discovery of cisplatin and continued development leading to its success as an essential weapon in the battle against cancer. The drugs cause permanent hearing loss in 40 to 80 percent of adult patients and at least half of children who receive the drug. The new findings help explain why cisplatin is so toxic to the inner ear, and why hearing loss gets worse after each treatment, can occur long after treatment, and is more severe in children than adults. “Hearing loss can have a major impact on a person’s life,” said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of NIDCD. “Many adults with hearing loss struggle with social isolation and depression, among other conditions. Children who lose their hearing often have problems with social development and keeping up at school. Helping to preserve hearing in cancer patients who benefit from these drugs would be a major contribution to the quality of their lives.”

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24442 - Posted: 12.20.2017

Can you hear this gif? Remember the white and gold dress that some internet users were certain was actually blue and black? Well, this time the dilemma being discussed online is whether you can hear anything in a silent animation of skipping pylons. The gif was created in 2008 by @IamHappyToast as part of a photoshop challenge on the boards of b3ta.com and has been circulating online since then - such as on Reddit's r/noisygifs subreddit in 2013. Many social media users have discussed the noisy-gif phenomenon, as on Imgur in 2011, for example, where it was titled an "optical illusion for the ears". It resurfaced again last weekend when Dr Lisa DeBruine from the Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology at the University of Glasgow posted it on Twitter, asking her followers to describe whether they experienced any auditory sensations while watching it. One person who suffers from ringing ears replied: "I hear a vibrating thudding sound, and it also cuts out my tinnitus during the camera shake." Others offered explanations as to why. While another suggested it may have something to do with correlated neuronal activity: "The brain is 'expecting/predicting' what is coming visually and then fires a version of what it expects across the relevant senses. Also explains why some might 'feel' a physical shake." "My gut says the camera shake is responsible for the entire effect. Anything that shook the camera like that, would probably make the 'thud' sound," posted another Twitter user.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 24401 - Posted: 12.07.2017