An electrokinetic model of transduction in the semicircular canal.


Transduction in the semicircular canal was studied by focusing an infrared beam on either side of exposed ampullae from the posterior canals of Rana pipiens. The direction of fluid movement resulting from a stimulus was inferred by observing the polarity of the change in afferent impulse mean rate relative to the spontaneous value. On the basis of the accepted functional polarization of this receptor, the results indicate that fluid moved toward the warmer side of the ampulla. Convection and thermal reception were shown to be unlikely explanations for these results. Morover, cupular displacements toward the warmer side would not be expected. Because thermo-osmosis can cause fluid to move toward the warmer side in a gelatin membrane, the results can be interpreted as evidence that thermo-osmosis occurred in the gelatinous cupula and influenced the transduction mechanism. Thermo-osmosis of liquids appears to be due to an electric field that is set up in a charged membrane; hence, the hair cells might have detected an electric field that occurred in the cupula during thermo-osmosis. Electroreception might be an important link in the transduction of physiological stimuli also. Rotational stimuli could result in weak electric fields in the cupula by the mechanoelectric effect. Cupular displacements could be important for large stimuli, but extrapolations to threshold stimuli suggest displacements of angstrom amplitudes. Therefore, electroreception by the hair cells could be an explanation of the great sensitivity that has been observed in the semicircular canal and other labyrinthine receptors.

Cite this paper

@article{OLeary1970AnEM, title={An electrokinetic model of transduction in the semicircular canal.}, author={Dennis P. O'Leary}, journal={Biophysical journal}, year={1970}, volume={10 9}, pages={859-75} }