Inner hair cells (IHCs) are the true sensory receptors in the cochlea; they transmit auditory information to the brain. IHCs respond to basilar membrane (BM) vibration by producing a transducer current through mechanotransducer (MET) channels located at the tip of their stereocilia when these are deflected. The IHC MET current has not been measured from adult animals. We simultaneously recorded IHC transducer currents and BM motion in a gerbil hemicochlea to examine relationships between these two variables and their variation along the cochlear length. Results show that although maximum transducer currents of IHCs are uniform along the cochlea, their operating range is graded and is narrower in the base. The MET current displays adaptation, which along with response magnitude depends on extracellular calcium concentration. The rate of adaptation is invariant along the cochlear length. We introduce a new method of measuring adaptation using sinusoidal stimuli. There is a phase lead of IHC transducer currents relative to sinusoidal BM displacement, reflecting viscoelastic coupling of their cilia and their adaptation process.
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