Neurosciences - From Molecule to Behavior: a university textbook

pp 337-362


Auditory Systems

  • Günter EhretAffiliated withInstitute of Neurobiology, University of Ulm Email author 
  • , Martin C. GöpfertAffiliated withDepartment of Cellular Neurobiology, Schwann-Schleiden-Centre for Molecular Cell Biology, University of Göttingen

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Sound waves are the adequate physical stimulus for hearing organs of vertebrates and insects. Sound waves may originate from abiotic events, for example, from running water, breaking waves at beaches, movement of bushes and trees in the wind, howling storms, or thunder. Most interesting for animals, however, are sounds generated by other moving animals – rustling noises may signal the presence of prey or predator – or by special sound-producing organs of insects and vertebrates which use sounds in communication. The morphology of hearing organs is adapted to the physical properties of the sounds to be perceived. Central to all hearing organs are mechanoreceptors (see Chap.​ 16). In the present chapter, we deal with mechanoreceptors serving in hearing organs as the sensitive elements through which sound-induced motion is translated into activation of the central auditory systems of animals, thus providing information about the presence of sound waves in surrounding water or air. Sound waves traveling in and being picked up from solids are not considered here (see Chap.​ 16).