Abstract and Keywords
This article introduces a number of critical features of the afferent synapse with particular reference to mammalian hearing. The auditory synapse is the first relay point for the input of sound into the nervous system and the properties of this synapse determine how well a signal from the hair cells is relayed up the auditory brainstem. This information is re-encoded as a pattern in the auditory nerve for subsequent analysis by the brain. The design of the afferent synapse ensures that the information content is not degraded. The article describes the structure and physiology of the afferent synapse and explains the presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms. Furthermore, it reveals the paired presynaptic and postsynaptic responses. In addition, it also describes the concept of synaptic adaptation and the genetics of the synapse. It also states that it is sometimes necessary to extrapolate from non-mammalian systems.
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