Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 462–464 | Cite as

Hearing in the starling (Sturnus vulgaris): Absolute thresholds and critical ratios

  • Robert J. Dooling
  • Kazuo Okanoya
  • Jane Downing
  • Stewart Hulse


Operant conditioning and a psychophysical tracking procedure were used to measure auditory thresholds for pure tones in quiet and in noise for a European starling. The audibility curve for the starling is similar to the auditory sensitivity reported earlier for this species using a heart-rate conditioning procedure. Masked auditory thresholds for the starling were measured at a number of test frequencies throughout the bird’s hearing range. Critical ratios (signal-to-noise ratio at masked threshold) were calculated from these pure tone thresholds. Critical ratios increase throughout the starling’s hearing range at a rate of about 3 dB per octave. This pattern is similar to that observed for most other vertebrates. These results suggest that the starling shares a common mechanism of spectral analysis with many other vertebrates, including the human.


Operant Conditioning Critical Ratio Absolute Threshold Auditory Threshold Auditory Sensitivity 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Dooling
    • 1
  • Kazuo Okanoya
    • 1
  • Jane Downing
    • 1
  • Stewart Hulse
    • 2
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of MarylandCollege Park
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore

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