Development of the auditory pathway

Douglas E.H. Hartley and Andrew J. King

in The Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science: The Auditory Brain

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199233281
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Development of the auditory pathway

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Psychology



The study of auditory development provides an understanding of the processes that underlie auditory function in adulthood and the effects of hearing loss on the developing brain. The evolution of the auditory system has helped many species adapt to their surroundings. This article discusses how the auditory system simply blossoms into being. Some of the key embryological and perinatal milestones that contribute to the formation of the adult auditory system are reviewed. The article gives potential insights into processes of rapid development that might be vulnerable to the effects of hearing loss, compared with more robust systems that have already reached a more advanced stage of maturity. Developmental trends in pure-tone sensitivity, frequency selectivity, and temporal resolution play a pivotal role in speech perception and the ability to localize sound. Recording cortical responses in several species is recently making progress in our knowledge of the neural processing of species-specific vocalizations.

Keywords: auditory function; embryological milestones; hearing loss; frequency selectivity; cortical responses; species-specific vocalizations

Article.  13766 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Cognitive Psychology

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