5 Comparative Audition

Behavioral Neuroscience

  1. Cynthia F. Moss PhD1,
  2. Catherine E. Carr PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop203005

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Moss, C. F. and Carr, C. E. 2012. Comparative Audition. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 3:5.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Maryland, Department of Psychology, College Park, Maryland, USA

  2. 2

    University of Maryland, Department of Biology, College Park, Maryland, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


Research on comparative hearing includes measures of auditory function, as well as neuroanatomical and neurophysiological studies of auditory structures and signal processing. In this chapter we review selected data from representative species, which allow us to highlight general principles and noteworthy specializations. The chapter begins with a brief introduction to acoustics, followed by a review of behavioral measures of auditory sensitivity, frequency selectivity, localization, and scene analysis. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to relating behaviors to the underlying structure and function of auditory systems. All auditory systems, from insects to mammals, are organized along similar lines, with peripheral mechanisms responsive to acoustic vibrations, which serve to activate neurons in the ascending auditory pathway. This is brought out through a review of the ears, anatomical pathways, and neural coding of insects, birds, fish, and mammals. We note that both invertebrate and vertebrate auditory systems appear to use comparable neural codes to carry information about sound source spectrum, amplitude, and location in space.


  • hearing;
  • psychoacoustics;
  • auditory physiology;
  • auditory pathways;
  • ear