It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it

My first of several posts about sensory cell neurobiology will be appearing shortly. To get you warmed up, here’s a movie showing a mechanosensory hair cell responding to a low frequency sound played through the glass pipette you can see in the image. *Caution*: low frequency sound may not be appropriate for work. Earphones recommended.

Also, the Scienceblogs Survey is now open again, and will remain so until 11PM EST Friday, August 15th.



  1. bill says

    Nice that they picked a fat one in the frequency range I can still hear. Apparently I have a watch with an alarm that goes off at 2:15 every afternoon. Never heard it.

  2. DavidWaldock says

    I’m studying sensory neurobiology at the moment, and I thought it was just the tip (that looks a bit like a stanley knife towards the top of the frame) that responded to the movement of the tectorial membrance?

    Cool video though ;-)

  3. DavidWaldock says

    Ah, wait, I worked this out – was it the protective reflex protecting the cell from damage?

  4. Danio says

    The movie is of an outer hair cell from a mammalian cochlea. OHCs exhibit electromotility as part of their normal function.

  5. says

    OHCs were discovered by Jonathan Ashmore at the UCL Ear Institute, and are thought to be involved in amplification.

    Ashmore also made this film clip. He gave a lecture on the cochlea last year, which I attended as part of my M.Sc. programme. He showed us the clip, and told us that he added the soundtrack when his work was featured in a BBC documentary.

  6. says

    You know what? I like Pharyngula all the time but I also think PZ should go away more often. He does such a good job choosing his guest bloggers.

    I am looking forward to that, Danio.

  7. Vitis01 says

    Where are these low frequencies you speak of. In 1955 they could barely record the mid-ranges. Play the little thing some Dr. Dre or Prodigy or DJ Aphrodite… heheh

  8. DLC says

    Obviously the mechanosensory hair cell was Designed to like Heathen Music! Onoez teh debil designed it!

    Cool video though.

  9. says

    I find it surprising that the survey was so obviously targeted towards Americans. Or perhaps not, but then they should have made it clear from the start that the rest of us should fill it out.

  10. nicknick bobick says

    Kristjan @ 15

    I am surprised that the survey was so obviously directed toward Seeds advertising interests. How much TV? How much travel? How many personal services?

    Why not, How many books do you read each year? Discouraging, but I guess they gotta make a buck.

  11. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    The movie is of an outer hair cell

    So its true; my hair got legs. Who’da thunk it?

    [Referring to other comments here, seeing such basic behavior makes dance shows a little less impressive. But just a little.]

  12. GirBoBytons says

    I don’t know why but I watched it and it made me giggle. Is it supposed to do that? And thanks for the warning on the sound but luckily I wear headphones all day long where I work so no worries for me hehe.

  13. says

    That’s pretty cool. But, is this real? I’m assuming it is, but I know I could fake this sort of thing in AfterEffects if I wanted to.

  14. Sven DiMilo says

    OHCs were discovered by Jonathan Ashmore at the UCL Ear Institute, and are thought to be involved in amplification.

    Copy editor!!
    The cells (that’s the C in OHCs) were “discovered” well over 100 years ago…dude named Corti?

    It’s the electromotility that’s news. I remember when I was a TA for Comparative Physiology back in the late 80s, the prof that semester, Peter Narins, had just returned from a conference where he had heard for the first time the news that OHCs were effectors, not sensors (I gather that now they are thought to be both?) …a clearer demonstration of the (occasional) thrill of science you could not ask for; the guy was beside himself with intellectual excitement.

  15. Sili says

    Boo – missed the survey again. I can’t keep up with you people.

    Oddly adorable cell, really.