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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 626971, 21 pages
Research Article

Quantitative Analysis Linking Inner Hair Cell Voltage Changes and Postsynaptic Conductance Change: A Modelling Study

Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Received 9 May 2014; Revised 20 August 2014; Accepted 4 September 2014

Academic Editor: Eiichi Kumamoto

Copyright © 2015 Andreas N. Prokopiou and Emm. M. Drakakis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents a computational model which estimates the postsynaptic conductance change of mammalian Type I afferent peripheral process when airborne acoustic waves impact on the tympanic membrane. A model of the human auditory periphery is used to estimate the inner hair cell potential change in response to airborne sound. A generic and tunable topology of the mammalian synaptic ribbon is generated and the voltage dependence of its substructures is used to calculate discrete and probabilistic neurotransmitter vesicle release. Results suggest an almost linear relationship between increasing sound level (in dB SPL) and the postsynaptic conductance for frequencies considered too high for neurons to phase lock with (i.e., a few kHz). Furthermore coordinated vesicle release is shown for up to 300–400 Hz and a mechanism of phase shifting the subharmonic content of a stimulating signal is suggested. Model outputs suggest that strong onset response and highly synchronised multivesicular release rely on compound fusion of ribbon tethered vesicles.