Sounds in silence: How glial cells in the ear promote development of the auditory system before hearing onset
Spontaneous electrical activity is a prevalent feature of the developing nervous system. This intrinsically generated activity has been implicated in controlling diverse aspects of development, ranging from neuronal survival to synaptic refinement. In the auditory system, bursts of activity are initiated in the cochlea when ATP is released by glia-like supporting cells located adjacent to inner hair cells. In this lecture, I will describe how these supporting cells use a pathway that controls fluid secretion in other organs to induce excitation of hair cells, show using in vivo imaging from pre-hearing mice how these peripheral glial cells control neural activity in the CNS and discuss how this highly stereotyped activity influences the maturation of circuits responsible for processing sound.