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The 2018 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, which recognizes neuroscientists for pioneering advances in our understanding of existence at its biggest, smallest, and most complex scale, was presented to Dana Alliance member A. James Hudspeth, of The Rockefeller University, Robert Fettiplace, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Dana Alliance member Christine Petit, of Collège de France/Pasteur Institute, for their scientific discoveries of the molecular and neural mechanisms of hearing. The Laureates used complementary approaches to unravel the mechanisms by which hair cells in the inner ear transform sound into electrical signals that can be deciphered by the brain.
The announcement on the Kavli Prize site continues:
“They have provided fundamental new insights into how our inner ear transforms sound into electrical signals – the basis of hearing – and have unveiled genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying hearing loss,” says Ole Petter Ottersen, head of the neuroscience prize committee. “Their work serves as a sterling example of how concerted efforts across disciplines and technologies can revolutionize our understanding of complex neurobiological processes.”
Hudspeth’s research has provided much of the framework for our understanding of how sound is converted into neural signals through hair cells and their ion channels. Fettiplace showed that each hair cell in the cochlea of the inner ear is sensitive to a specific range of sound frequencies and discovered the mechanistic basis of this. By exploring the genetics of hereditary deafness, Christine Petit has furthered our understanding of hair cell biology and informed deafness diagnosis and counseling. Combined, these Laureates’ work has unraveled the sense of hearing.
More details available at the Kavli Prize website.