Behavioral and physiological studies of hearing in birds

M. B. Sachs, J. M. Sinnott, R. D. Hienz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Studies of hearing thresholds and frequency- and intensity-difference limens for birds are reviewed. Where possible these are related to limitations placed on auditory function by stimulus processing at peripheral levels of the avian auditory system. The high frequency limit of bird hearing is about 10 kHz; this limit is shown to be imposed in part by middle ear function and in part by cochlear mechanisms. For frequencies greater than 1.0 kHz, frequency-difference limens (DLs) show a similar dependence on frequency in birds as in mammals. Correspondingly, cochlear filtering is shown to be as good in birds as in mammals. At frequencies below 1.0 kHz, frequency DLs in birds are poorer than in mammals. These low frequency differences may not be attributable to peripheral processing. Intensity-difference limens are worse in birds than mammals; there seem to be no differences in peripheral processing between birds and mammals which can account for this behavioral difference. Finally, complexities in processing at higher levels of the avian auditory system which have been related to detection of species-specific vocalizations are shown to appear in the first brainstem auditory nuclei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2329-2335
Number of pages7
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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