About this Research Topic
The hearing and balance sensory pathways have many common properties as well as many differences that specialize them for their specific functions. The sensory organs in the inner ear have a common evolutionary origin and share many features. At the core of these organs are sensory hair cells capable of detecting nanometer-scale motions induced by the movement of the endolymph, either by sound or head movement. Hair cells convert mechanical input into electro-chemical signals which are transmitted to and interpreted by the central nervous system. Each of the two systems has developed its specialized way for coding sensory information: the vestibular periphery has a unique synapse between the hair cells and the calyx afferent terminals, and the cochlea provides a mechanical Fourier transform of the sound and has specialized multivesicular release in the hair cells – bouton synapses. Furthermore, central auditory pathways use unique methods for transferring information (e.g., frequency maps and specialized synapses such as the calyx of held). On the other hand, central vestibular pathways are highly multisensory and converge different inputs (e.g., neck proprioception and efference copy) to provide proper control of balance. Following lesions, the two systems use similar methods for compensation, but with different end results: while the vestibular system provides exemplar compensation and recovery of function through its multisensory nature, compensation in auditory pathways can result in symptoms such as tinnitus or hyperacusis.
This Research Topic is focused on a comparison between the vestibular and auditory systems and aims at highlighting some of the recent advances in these two fields with an emphasis on comparing the two systems at different levels. We seek Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Clinical Trial, Case Report and Opinion articles. The following topics are a few suggestions:
1) Peripheral afferent pathways: synaptic properties and signal transmission
2) Peripheral efferent pathways: synaptic transmission and function
3) Central brainstem circuits and the cerebellum: adaptation and multisensory integration
4) Compensation (peripheral and central) at the cellular, systems, or behavioral levels
5) Peripheral injury: noise injury, blast injury, surgical damage, drug-induced (through systemic, middle ear, or inner ear application)
6) Gene therapy vectors targeting auditory and vestibular hair cells
7) Peripheral regeneration
8) Planar polarity in the periphery
9) New clinical tests (e.g., stimulation of otoliths by sound)
10) Therapeutic interventions including drug treatments and rehabilitation
Keywords: Hair cell, Afferent, Efferent, Brainstem, Inner ear
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.