Evolution of hearing in vertebrates: the inner ears and processing

Hear Res. 2000 Nov;149(1-2):1-10. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(00)00168-4.


This paper considers aspects of the evolution of the vertebrate auditory system from an 'ichthyocentric' perspective. It is argued that all vertebrate auditory systems are required to do certain basic tasks including acoustic feature discrimination, sound source localization, frequency analysis, and auditory scene analysis, among others. These sorts of capabilities arose very early in the evolution of the vertebrates and have been modified by selection in different species. In some cases the same structures have been involved in detection and analysis throughout the vertebrates, while in other cases the mechanism by which the same type of analysis takes place may have changed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Ear, Inner / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology
  • Hearing* / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Sound Localization / physiology
  • Vertebrates*