HST.721 | Fall 2005 | Graduate

The Peripheral Auditory System


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Overview

There are two lectures per week, one devoted to a ‘real’ lecture containing new material, and one devoted to discussions of research papers with topics from previous lectures. You will be expected to read these papers and turn in written answers to the ‘study questions’ before the discussion lecture. There are six recitation sessions scheduled throughout the term, in which problem sets will be discussed. Finally, there are two labs: anatomy (viewing slides of auditory structures) and a physiology experiment (assessment of mouse hearing).

Course Structure

  • Lectures: 1 per week, 2 hrs duration, summarizing basic principles in each major area
  • Paper Discussions: 1 per week, 2 hrs duration, with student-led discussions of the original scientific literature
  • Problem Sets: 1 every other week, with a TA-led recitation session to discuss answers, which must be turned in the day before by 5:00 p.m.
  • Laboratory Exercises:
    • Anatomy of the Auditory Periphery - light- and electron-microscopic evaluation of the inner ear and
    • Functional Assessment of Mouse Hearing - recording brainstem evoked responses and otoacoustic emissions from anesthetized mice.


In addition to completing the 6 problem sets, each week, students will:

  • Read overview material assigned for each Lecture
  • Read 2-3 papers assigned for that week’s Discussion
  • Turn in written answers to Study Questions designed to guide reading of assigned papers

At least twice during the semester, each student will present a 15-minute oral summary of one of the papers assigned for Discussion. In preparation for this presentation, each student will meet twice with an Instructor.

Once during the semester, each student will be Discussion leader for a Paper Discussion and will be responsible for producing a short (5-page) summary of the salient points.

For Mouse Hearing Laboratory, students will work in small groups and each group will prepare and present a Lab Report during one of the Discussion Sessions.


There will be a final exam.


Students are strongly encouraged to buy two books:

Geisler, C. Daniel. From Sound to Synapse: Physiology of the Mammalian Ear. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780195100259.

Alberts, Bruce, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th ed. New York, NY: Garland Science, 2002. ISBN: 9780815332183.