The afferent synapse

Jonathan Ashmore

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

 The afferent synapse

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Psychology


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This article introduces a number of critical features of the afferent synapse with particular reference to mammalian hearing. The auditory synapse is the first relay point for the input of sound into the nervous system and the properties of this synapse determine how well a signal from the hair cells is relayed up the auditory brainstem. This information is re-encoded as a pattern in the auditory nerve for subsequent analysis by the brain. The design of the afferent synapse ensures that the information content is not degraded. The article describes the structure and physiology of the afferent synapse and explains the presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms. Furthermore, it reveals the paired presynaptic and postsynaptic responses. In addition, it also describes the concept of synaptic adaptation and the genetics of the synapse. It also states that it is sometimes necessary to extrapolate from non-mammalian systems.

Keywords: afferent synapse; mammalian hearing; auditory synapse; presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms; synaptic adaptation; genetics of synapse

Article.  12981 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Cognitive Psychology

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