Speaker Name(s): Dorothea Godt, Ph.D. Description: Dorothea Godt, Ph.D., Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology, U of T
Some forms of deafness are hereditary, others are induced by the environment. In either case, the hearing-loss is often caused by a disturbance of the finger-like structures that stick out from the surface of the sound receptors in our inner ear. Normally, these fingers are arranged like organ pipes and are held together by strings. Under the impact of incoming sound waves they bend like grass in the wind. This signals the sound receptor to send a nerve impulse to the brain, where the information is interpreted as sound. Any defect in the finger bundle disrupts the signaling process, and therefore the ability to hear. In recent years, much progress has been made in finding the molecules that are important to make and maintain the 'sound fingers' and are critical for preventing deafness. Mice and flies help us to decipher how these molecules work.