Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Relay Station

Protein identified that defines a type of neuron involved in hearing

04 August 2019

Relay Station

Spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) are crucial relay stations for signals travelling from our ears to the brain. Located in the cochlea [part of the inner ear], SGN cell bodies (here in green) send auditory information about the world around us to the brain via their axon fibres (in red). Specifically, they relay electrochemical signals created by cochlear hair cells that inform the brain about sound vibrations detected in the environment, which helps both hearing and balance. There are many different SGN sub-categories that help us make sense of the broad range of sounds that we encounter, each with their own structural and molecular properties. This image of SGNs was taken from a recent study looking into the characteristics of different SGN sub-categories in mice. The researchers found that a specific protein affects the molecular features of some SGNs, helping to better understand the role of these neurons within the auditory pathway.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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