Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Dr Kerry Walker and her team help us to better understand how we perceive pitch, a feature of hearing critical to recognising communication through sound, such as speech and music.

“Pitch” refers to our experience of the tonal quality of sound on a low-to-high musical scale, and it is one of the most behaviourally important features of hearing.

Animal models allow us to better understand the brain mechanisms responsible for experiencing a perception of pitch, but we currently have a poor understanding of the extent to which these mechanisms are conserved across species.

In a new study published in eLife, Dr Walker and her team have uncovered key differences in the way that pitch is extracted from sound waves in humans and non-human animals. Using behavioural tasks, their research shows that ferrets primarily derive pitch from the temporal properties of sounds, while human listeners depend more on the sound’s frequency content. They also apply computational models to explain how these species differences can result from mechanisms in the inner ear.

The full study, "Across-species differences in pitch perception are consistent with differences in cochlear filtering," is available to read here

Similar stories

How to use the science of the body clock to improve our sleep and health

Professor Russell Foster has written a new book about circadian neuroscience which is published by Penguin this week. This book review by Jacqueline Pumphrey was first published on the University of Oxford website.

NICE recommends offering app-based treatment for people with insomnia instead of sleeping pills

Hundreds of thousands of people suffering from insomnia who would usually be prescribed sleeping pills could be offered an app-based treatment programme instead, NICE has said.

New Study Shows Simvastatin Can Change the Way People Experience Certain Emotions

This new study examines the effects of simvastatin on emotional processing, reward learning, verbal memory, and inflammation.

Developmental dynamics of the neural crest–mesenchymal axis in creating the thymic microenvironment

A new paper from researchers at the Department of Paediatrics and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences has shown that fibroblasts in the thymus, often considered simply as dull “structural” cells, are much more complex than previously thought.

Oxford researchers part of major UK initiative to understand chronic pain

Oxford pain researchers are playing a major role in a new multi-million pound research programme launched by a consortium of funders, including UKRI, Versus Arthritis, Eli Lilly and the Medical Research Foundation.