In Vivo Imaging
Our five senses, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing are critical to our ability to interface with our environment, and we are using at least one of them every moment of every day. Recent in vivo approaches are elucidating multicellular signal processing at peripheral sensory organs in response to natural stimulation. Unfortunately, the auditory periphery (cochlea) is the one exception where technical hurdles have limited progress. Technical problems include: (i) the deep location within the temporal bone makes access difficult, (ii) the fluid-filled bony structure prevents imaging cellular activity, and (iii) existing surgical approaches for in vivo studies cause hearing loss. For these reasons, current in vivo approaches at the auditory periphery lack either cellular resolution or population information. We are developing an in vivo method for monitoring functional activity of multiple cochlear cells. Our method provides new opportunities for addressing important physiological and pathophysiological questions about how cochlear cells respond dynamically to sound stimuli and transfer information to the central nervous system.