Are the tiny hairs in the cochlea mechanoreceptors? Explain your answer.

Yes, they are. A mechanoreceptor is a receptor that transduces mechanical stimuli or distortion into a receptor potential, as those responding to touch and muscular contractions.

The cochlea is a transducer, which means it is a system for converting energy from one form into another. The cochlea transduces mechanical vibrations of sound into nerve impulses.

Hair cells in the inner ear are specialized mechanoreceptor cells that detect sound and head movement. The mechanotransduction machinery of hair cells is extraordinarily sensitive and responds to minute physical displacements on a submillisecond timescale.

The hair cells are bent when the basilar membrane (a thin sheet of tissue that runs the length of the cochlea) and surrounding fluids are distorted by traveling waves.

When a hair is bent, it generates an electrical impulse that ultimately causes the firing of nerve impulses along the auditory nerve leading to the brain. Therefore, in a sense, the sense of hearing is based on touch.

To learn more see these links:

Mechanotransduction by Hair Cells: Models, Molecules, and Mechanisms by Peter G. Gillespie and Ulrich Müller - The Inner Ear

Tags: innerhair 
Wednesday, October 04 2017