Electromotility of outer hair cells

Kuni H. Iwasa

in Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science: The Ear

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199233397
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Electromotility of outer hair cells

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
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This article describes electromotility from a mechanistic viewpoint. It discusses phenomenologically and various aspects of electromotility to demonstrate that the underlying mechanism of electromotility is mechanoelectrical coupling. Both inner and outer hair cells in the cochlea perform mechanoelectrical transduction in response to oscillation of the basilar membrane during acoustic stimulation. Outer hair cells have two reverse transduction mechanisms, one in their hair and another in the lateral wall of their cell body to function as cochlear amplifier. The reverse transduction mechanism in hair bundles is directly associated with the mechanoelectric transducer (MET) channels. Electromotility does not depend on chemical energy, which most, if not all, biological motilities use, but it uses electrical energy available at the plasma membrane in a manner similar to piezoelectricity. A current challenge in elucidating the mechanism of electromotility is to provide molecular or physical models, as the current understanding is more or less phenomenological.

Keywords: electromotility; mechanoelectrical coupling; mechanoelectric transducer channels; transduction; Outer hair cells; piezoelectricity

Article.  16645 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Cognitive Psychology

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