Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

03. Hear the Humming?

Andrew H. Bass, Neurobiology and Behavior, led a team of researchers that discovered a relationship between increased levels of estrogen-like hormone and hearing sensitivity in female plainfin midshipmen fish. The researchers raised the level of the steroid hormone in nonreproductive female fish, Porichthys notatus, temporarily altering their inner ear auditory mechanisms so they could hear the hum-like mating calls of the males and increase their reproductive capability. They found that the reproductive status of the females did not change (their eggs were still underdeveloped), but the researchers discovered instead a hormonal trigger for a complex auditory system. Steroid hormones seem to provide a key molecule that leads to fluctuations in the hearing sensitivity of females. The work has implications for researchers who study the human auditory system. The study suggests a function for the estrogen receptors in the human inner ear, and is relevant to women with Turner syndrome—a genetic abnormality resulting in the loss of estrogen production in the ovaries—who typically show an early onset of progressive high-frequency hearing loss.

› Top  /  › Next Article  /  › Back to Listing


If you can see this message in a graphical web browser, then you are most likely using a non-modern browser. People who are using a graphical browser have the following options:

Upgrade to a modern generation web browser such as Mozilla, Opera, or for Mac users there is also Safari.

For people using early generation web browsers, such as Netscape 4, you can access the content of this page as is but there may be presentational errors.

Cornell University  
222 Day Hall
Ithaca, New York

P: 607.255.7200
F: 607.255.9030
E: VP Research
C: Credits