The Evolution of Central Pathways and Their Neural Processing Patterns

  • Benedikt Grothe
  • Catherine E. Carr
  • John H. Casseday
  • Bernd Fritzsch
  • Christine Köppl
Part of the Springer Handbook of Auditory Research book series (SHAR, volume 22)


A comprehensive and conclusive description of the evolution of the central auditory system in vertebrates is a difficult, if not impossible, task. We simply lack important basic information. For instance, we do not know how and what the common ancestors of all the terrestrial vertebrates could hear (certainly not airborne sound, because they had no tympanic middle ear) and how they might have processed basic sounds (such as substrate vibrations). However, a comparative approach allows us to define some principles of auditory processing that we find in all hearing vertebrates and a basic outline of its neural substrate. There is a striking similarity among all vertebrates concerning the principal design of the central auditory system. It. seems to result from the fact that all vertebrate central auditory systems are based on similar basic neural building blocks that work with similar underlying principles. These building blocks were then shaped by evolutionary constraints that were similar for all hearing vertebrates, simply because the acoustic cues that can be used for sound recognition or sound localizations are limited. However, an important issue in this chapter is the increasing evidence that the elaborated central auditory systems in the different clades of recent vertebrates are to a large extent a result of parallel, independent evolution.


Inferior Colliculus Cochlear Nucleus Interaural Time Difference Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus Medial Superior Olive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benedikt Grothe
  • Catherine E. Carr
  • John H. Casseday
  • Bernd Fritzsch
  • Christine Köppl

There are no affiliations available

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