Efferent feedback onto sensory organs provides a means to modulate input to the central nervous system. In the developing mammalian cochlea, inner hair cells are transiently, innervated by efferent fibers, even before sensory function begins. Here, we show that neonatal inner hair cells are inhibited by cholinergic synaptic input before the onset of hearing. The synaptic currents, as well as the inner hair cells response to acetylcholine, are mediated by a nicotinic (α9-containing) receptor and result in the activation of small-conductance calcium-dependent potassium channels.
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