Now in our 13th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Search the archive of over 4000 images

Sensing the Vibes
16 May 2012

Sensing the Vibes

Whether the merest whisper or an earth-trembling boom, the delicate apparatus deep within our ear vibrates helping us to perceive sound. Tiny bones rattle and create waves in a fluid-filled compartment, the cochlea. Undulation of the cochlea lining is sensed by thousands of hair cells whose ciliia (the cluster pictured is magnified 75000 times) jostle. This movement in turn morphs into a signal that nerves transmit to our brain, which acknowledges the ‘sound’. Mechanical wear by repeated exposure to loud noise, meningitis, or congenital disorders can cause deafness by damaging hair cells. Many thousands worldwide with profound impairment have had hearing restored by a cochlear implant. Hair cells are replaced with electrodes surgically positioned inside the cochlea and sound is received through a microphone fixed on the scalp. In the future stem cell therapy could supersede this form of treatment.

Written by Lindsey Goff

  • Dr Spiro Comis/WTMPL
  • Originally published under Creative Commons (CC-BY-NC-ND); Courtesy of Wellcome Images

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

Follow on Tumblr

Follow on Instagram

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.