Coding of Complex Sounds in the Auditory Nervous System

  • Aage R. Møller


Auditory research has for many years been dominated by the assumption that the ear is a frequency (or spectrum) analyzer. The origin of this assumption can be traced back to the formulation of the Place Theory of Hearing by von Helmholtz more than one hundred years ago. This hypothesis developed into one of the most successful theories in history and has influenced auditory research in a fundamental way. It has guided the design of innumerable experiments and has influenced the interpretation of results. Thus, studies of the ear using physiological methods have been aimed mainly at the determination of the ear’s frequency selectivity. In the auditory nervous system, recordings of the electrical events in single auditory nerve cells and fibers have been used in studies of frequency selectivity. These studies have generally confirmed that the ear possesses a frequency selectivity which is maintained throughout the ascending auditory pathways. In addition, the tonotopic arrangement of cells in the various nuclei of the ascending auditory pathway including the auditory cortex has been taken as a further indication of the importance of the ear’s frequency selectivity. Pure tones have been the dominant stimulus for such experiments.


Pure Tone Basilar Membrane Cochlear Nucleus Sound Intensity Frequency Selectivity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aage R. Møller
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Physiological Acoustics, Department of OtolaryngologyUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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