Experiments in comparative hearing: Georg von Békésy and beyond

Geoffrey A. Manley, Peter M. Narins, Richard R. Fay

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Georg von Békésy was one of the first comparative auditory researchers. He not only studied basilar membrane (BM) movements in a range of mammals of widely different sizes, he also worked on the chicken basilar papilla and the frog middle ear. We show that, in mammals, at least, his data do not differ from those that could be collected using modern techniques but with the same, very loud sounds. There is in all cases a major difference to frequency maps collected using low-level sounds. In contrast, the same cannot be said of his chicken data, perhaps due to the different roles played by the BM in mammals and birds. In lizards, the BM is not tuned and it is perhaps good that Békésy did not begin with those species and get discouraged in his seminal comparative work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


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