David Kohrman, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University of Michigan Medical School
This image shows the sensory cells within the cochlea of a 7-day-old mouse that are responsible for hearing. These sensory cells are known as 'hair' cells because of the hair-like projections on their top surface (here, pseudo-colored blue). The projections detect sound vibrations that are delivered to the cochlea through outer and middle ear structures and, in response to the vibrations, initiate electrical signals that are transmitted to the brain. Loss of the projections or the sensory cells themselves is a frequent cause of inherited deafness and of acquired hearing loss due to the damaging effects of loud noise.