When electrical resonances were observed in acoustic sensory cells of lower vertebrates, the hearing research community was presented with the exciting possibility that tuning in the ears of those animals might be explained directly in terms of familiar molecular devices. It is reported here that in the frog sacculus, where electrical resonances have been observed in isolated hair cells, the effects of those resonances are completely obscured in the tuning properties of the sacculus in the intact ear. This observation has important implications not only for students of the ear, but for reductionist biologists in general. All of the dynamic properties of a system of connected, bidirectional processes are consequences of all of those processes at once; in such a system, the properties of an experimentally isolated subsystem may be totally obscured in the operation of the system as a whole
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