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Programmed perception

Life Science

A placenta gene provides information on potential autism.

Now, a research team from Northwestern University has discovered a different gene that is crucial to our ability to hear.

Outer hair cells in the ear amplify sound for the inner hair cells. These, in turn, transmit vibrations to the nerves, enabling us to perceive sound.

Age or medical treatment causes these cells to die. With the help of two further genes in the ear hair cells, however, intermediate cells can be reprogrammed.

Then, activating or deactivating the third, newly discovered “hearing gene” enables scientists to make new inner or outer hair cells.

As with this battery-free hearing aid, research is only just beginning. Mushrooms are also good for our ears.

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