Our ears are amazing. They convert sound waves in the air into nerve impulses that travel to the brain and are interpreted into a symphony of sounds. Pictured are special nerve cells in a mouse's cochlea (the part of the ear that converts sound into nerve firing) heading off into the brain. One interesting thing about the way this biological wiring works is that signals caused by similar pitched sounds, such as high or low tones, are wired into neighbouring parts of the brain. The animal this image came from has a fault in a particular gene that means these nerves don't wire up into quite the right place. Millions of people around the world suffer from hearing problems, so understanding more about how nerves are wired from ears to brain could lead to better ways to diagnose the roots of their condition and point towards future sound solutions.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.