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A section of the inner ear of a 25-year-old woman. The row of structures at the top are inner hair cells, which transform sound waves into nerve impulses. The array at the bottom is made up of outer hair cells, which are responsible for amplifying sound. Several of the outer hair cells are missing. 

Image credits:

Image Credits: Courtesy of Charles Liberman

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Image Rights: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article.