Is a cochlear hair cell a neuron?

Richard Vickery Richard.Vickery at unsw.edu.au
Mon Jun 30 20:44:59 EST 2003

TonyJeffs wrote:
> Is a cochlear hair cell a neuron or not?  I've seen it categorised
> both ways.
> Is it a matter of preference?  Has it changed as more is learned about
> the hair cell.

It makes a synapse and can also be post-synaptic to synapses.  The 
issue is that it does not generate action potentials.  I don't 
believe there is clear consensus on what to call it - it depends 
upon how you define a neuron.

> What's the output? is it a variable release of neurotransmitter
> depending on incoming signal, or is it like the release from a
> presynaptic membrane?

The hair cell works with graded potentials that determine the 
release of neurotransmitter, so it is your option A.


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