Mechanical amplification of stimuli by hair cells

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Aug;7(4):480-6. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(97)80026-8.


Unlike any other known sensory receptor, the hair cell uses positive feedback to augment the stimulus to which it responds. In the internal ears of many vertebrates, hair cells amplify the inputs to their mechanosensitive hair bundles. Outer hair cells of the mammalian cochlea display a unique form of somatal motility that may underlie their contribution to amplification. In other receptor organs, hair cells may effect amplification by hair-bundle movements driven by the activity of myosin or of transduction channels. Recent work has demonstrated the presence of several myosin isozymes in hair bundles, confirmed that bundles display myosin ATPase activity, and shown that the work performed by myosin molecules could account for one aspect of the amplificatory process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans