Periodic Reporting for period 2 - The insect cochlea (The Insect cochlea: a non-invasive path towards enhanced sound detectors)
Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30
Structural biology: Ear structure is being measured using micro- and nano-CT, and surface scanning microscopy to produce high-resolution 3D geometries. We have already discovered fine structures of the inner ear. We have expertise in cloning and histology, enabling us to tease apart the molecular nature of the hearing organ, including the function and location of mechanosensory proteins using confocal microscopy and Raman spectroscopy.
Neurosciences: We will fill the auditory nerve with harmless dyes that spread to the sensilla of the inner ear, and glow when the ear hears sound. The auditory sensilla are tonotopically arranged on the inner ear surface, and we will visualize the real-time activity of these neurons in response to sound by imaging through the transparent cuticles of our in-house bush-cricket species.
Biophysics: We use LDV to non-destructively measure auditory processes of the tympanic membrane and inner ear. The ERC grant paid for a unique set of three laser vibrometers that can measure the simultaneous vibrations in the outer and inner ear components of a single ear, or between left and right ears. With a novel experimental arena, we are measuring various processes of the inner ear including frequency analysis, active amplification, the formation of travelling waves, and in combination with state-of-the-art imaging techniques mentioned above, we hope to image the motility of the cilia.
Mathematics: Finally, using our 3D geometries alongside our other data, we will produce numerical models of each hearing step to facilitate our understanding of how such a small hearing system operates in a similar way to that of mammals. These models will aid the prediction of processes that we are not able to see, including origin of travelling waves, broadband sensitivity, and acoustic triangulation; the information needed to develop miniaturized acoustic sensors.