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Protein Key to Human Hearing Discovered

Professor David Corey of Harvard Medical School led the research team that identified a protein key to human hearing.
Richard Knox, NPR /
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Professor David Corey of Harvard Medical School led the research team that identified a protein key to human hearing.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere have found the long-sought protein that transforms sound waves into nerve impulses. As NPR's Richard Knox reports, researchers are learning that hearing is the "fastest" of the senses -- faster even than vision in the way that the newly discovered protein transforms input into nerve signals.

Our sense of hearing needs to be fast -- not only to warn us of danger and the direction it's coming from, but also to enable us to perceive the incredible density of information --- tone, pitch, volume and the rapidly changing stream of vowels and consonants -- in speech.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Since he joined NPR in 2000, Knox has covered a broad range of issues and events in public health, medicine, and science. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, and newscasts.