On hearing with more than one ear: lessons from evolution

Nat Neurosci. 2009 Jun;12(6):692-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2325. Epub 2009 May 26.


Although ears capable of detecting airborne sound have arisen repeatedly and independently in different species, most animals that are capable of hearing have a pair of ears. We review the advantages that arise from having two ears and discuss recent research on the similarities and differences in the binaural processing strategies adopted by birds and mammals. We also ask how these different adaptations for binaural and spatial hearing might inform and inspire the development of techniques for future auditory prosthetic devices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cochlear Implants / trends
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Sound Localization / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Vertebrates / anatomy & histology
  • Vertebrates / physiology