Rick Rabbitt

Professor of Bioengineering
Adjunct Professor of Otolaryngology

Rabbitt Faculty profile
Brain and Behavior
Cellular Neuroscience
B.S. 1980, Michigan State University; M.S. 1982, Michigan State University; Ph.D. 1986, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Inner ear biophysics and physiology

Biomechanics, biophysics and neurophysiology of the inner-ear hair cells, afferent neurons and efferent neurons in the cochlea, semicircular canals and otolith organs. Development of new technologies to measure biophysical properties excitable membrane proteins and exo-endocytosis in model cell lines, cardiac myocytes, and inner-ear hair cells. Examination of infrared photoactivation in organelles and excitable cells. Development of micro-domain voltage clamp using MEMS. The role of prestin and membrane motors in outer hair cell electromotility.

Selected Publications:

Rabbitt, R.D., and Brownell, W.E. (2011) Efferent Modulation of Hair Cell Function. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 19:376-381.

Dharia, S., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2011)
Monitoring voltage-dependent charge displacement of Shaker B-IR K+ ion channels using radio frequencies. PLoS ONE 6(2): e17363. PMID 21387000

Rajguru, S.M., Richter, C.P., Matic, A.I., Holstein, G.R., Highstein, S.M., Dittami, G.M., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2011) Infrared photostimulation of the crista ampullaris. J. Physiology 589:1283-1294. PMID 21242259. Article featured in a Perspective: I. S. Curthoys (2011) A red thread as a guide in the vestibular labyrinth. J. Physiol. 589 (6) 1241.

Dittami, G.M., Rajguru, S.M., Lasher, R.A., Hitchcock, R.W., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2011) Intracelluar calcium transients evoked by pulsed infrared radiation in neonatal cardiomyocytes. J. Physiology, 589:1295-1306. PMID 21242257. Article featured in a Perspective: E. A. Sobie (2011) Getting heart cells on the same wavelength: infrared triggering of Ca2+ transients in cardiac myocytes. J. Physiol. 589 (6) 1243.

Rabbitt, R.D., Boyle, R., and Highstein, S.M. (2010) Mechanical amplification by hair cells in the semicircular canals. PNAS, Feb 23; 107(8): 3864-3869. PMID 20133982.

Dharia, S., Ayliffe, H.E., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2009) Single cell electric impedance topography: mapping membrane capacitance. Lab Chip, Dec 7;9(23):3370-3377. PMID 19904403.

Dittami, G.M., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2010) Electrically evoking and electrochemically resolving quantal release on a microchip. Lab Chip, Jan 7; 10(1):30-35. PMID 20024047.

Rabbitt, R.D., Clifford, S., Breneman, K.D., Farrell, B., and Brownell, W.E. (2009) Power efficiency of outer hair cell somatic electromotility. PLoS Comput Biol., Jul;5(7):e1000444. Epub 2009 Jul 24.

Boyle, R.D., Rabbitt, R.D., and Highstein, S.M. (2009) Efferent Control of Hair Cell and Afferent Responses in the Semicircular Canals. J Neurophysiol., Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print]

Rabbitt, R.D., Breneman, K.D., King, C., Yamauchi, A.M., Boyle, R., and Highstein, S.M. (2009) Dynamic Displacement of Normal and Detached Semicircular Canal Cupula. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol., Jun 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Breneman, K.D., Brownell, W.E., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2009) Hair cell bundles: flexoelectric motors of the inner ear. PLoS One., 4(4):e5201. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


Ghanem, T.A., Breneman, K.D., Rabbitt, R.D., and Brown, H.M. (2008) Ionic composition of endolymph and perilymph in the inner ear of the oyster toadfish, Opsanus tau. Biol Bull., Feb;214(1):83-90.

Ifediba, M.A., Rajguru, S.M., Hullar, T.E., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2007) The role of 3-canal biomechanics in angular motion transduction by the human vestibular labyrinth. Ann Biomed Eng., Jul;35(7):1247-1263. Epub 2007 Mar 22.

Rajguru, S.M., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2007) Afferent responses during experimentally induced semicircular canalithiasis. J Neurophysiol., Mar;97(3):2355-2363. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Nakagawa, T., Oghalai, J.S., Saggau, P., Rabbitt, R.D., and Brownell, W.E. (2006) Photometric recording of transmembrane potential in outer hair cells. J Neural Eng., Jun;3(2):79-86. Epub 2006 Apr 11.

Rajguru, S.M., Ifediba, M.A., and Rabbitt, R.D. (2005) Biomechanics of horizontal canal benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. J Vestib Res., 15(4):203-214.

Rabbitt, R. D., Ayliffe, H. E., Christensen, D., Pamarthy, K., Durney, C., Clifford, S., and Brownell, W. (2005) Evidence of piezoelectric resonance in isolated outer hair cells. Biophys J, Mar;88(3):2257-2265.

Smeal, R. M., Rabbitt, R., Biran, R., and Tresco, P. (2005) Substrate curvature influences the direction of nerve outgrowth. Ann Biomed Eng, Mar;33(3):376-382.

Highstein, S. M., Rabbitt, R. D., Holstein, G. R., and Boyle, R. (2005) Determinants of spatial and temporal coding by semicircular canal afferents. J Neurophysiol May;93(5):2359-2370.

Rabbitt, R. D., Boyle, R., Holstein, G. R., and Highstein, S. (2005) Hair-cell versus afferent adaptation in the semicircular canals. J Neurophysiol, Jan;93(1):424-436.

Holstein, G. R., Rabbitt, R. D., Martinelli, G. P., Friedrich, V. L. Jr, Boyle, R. D., and Highstein, S. (2004) Convergence of excitatory and inhibitory hair cell transmitters shapes vestibular afferent responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, Nov 2;101(44):15766-15771.

Rajguru S. M., Ifediba, M., and Rabbitt, R. D. (2004) Three-dimensional biomechanical model of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Annals Biomedical Engineering, V32(06):831-846.

Holstein, G. R., Martinelli, G. P., Henderson, S. C., Fredirch, V. L., Rabbitt, R. D., and Highstein, S. M. (2004) GABA is present in a spatially-discrete subpopulation of hair cells in the crista ampullaris of the toadfish, Opsanus tau. J. Comp. Neurol., 471(1):1-10.

Farmer-Fedor, B., and Rabbitt, R. D. (2002) Acoustic intensity, impedance and reflection coefficient in the human ear canal. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 112(2): 1-21.

Yamauchi, A., Rabbitt, R. D., Boyle, R., and Highstein, S. (2001) The relationship between inner-ear fluid pressure and semicircular canal afferent nerve discharge. J. Assoc. Resh. Otolaryngology 03:026-044.

Rabbitt, R. D., Boyle, R., and Highstein, S. M. (1999) The influence of surgical plugging on horizontal semicircular canal mechanics and afferent response dynamics. J. Neurophysiology 82:1033-1052.

Rabbitt, R. D. (1999) Directional coding of three-dimensional movements by the vestibular semicircular canals. Biological Cybernetics 80:417-431.

Ayliffe, H. E., Rabbitt, R. D., and Frazier, A. B. (1998) Electric impedance spectroscopy using microchannels with intergrated metal electrodes. IEEE MEMS V8(1):50-57.

Ghanem, T. A., Rabbitt, R. D., and Tresco, P. A. (1998) Three dimensional reconstruction of the vestibular semicircular canals in the toadfish, Opsanus tau. Hearing Research V124:27-43.

Christensen, G. E., Rabbitt, R. D., and Miller, M. I. (1996) Deformable Templates Using Large Deformation Kinematics. IEEE Transactions on Image Processing 5(10):1435-1437.

Highstein, S. M., Rabbitt, R. D., and Boyle, R. (1996) Determinants of semicircular canal response dynamics in the toadfish, Opsanus tau. J. Neurophysiol. 75(2):575-596.

Rabbitt, R. D., Boyle, R., and Highstein, S. (1995) Mechanical indentation of the vestibular labyrinth and its relationship to head rotation in the toadfish, Opsanus tau. J. Neurophysiology V73(6):1-24.