Researchers at Washington State University are studying the midshipman fish, known for their one tone vocalization reminiscent of monk chant, to find a way for humans to regenerate our hearing hair cells.
Midshipman fish have the ability to constantly make new hearing hair cells, and the researchers are trying to determine what genes are making that happen, and if those genes could do something similar for humans. The researchers focus on studying the female fish because their hearing improves dramatically during their mating season, as they try to locate a suitable partner by listening to their “singing”.
The researchers remove ears from the fish during the mating season and compare them to the ears of fish they caught off season. “Nature is doing something really interesting in changing these fishes’ hearing seasonally,” said Allison Coffin, a neuroscientist at Washington State University. “We’re learning about nature, but we’re also learning something we can apply to our own hearing.”