My research involves examining a wide range of different vertebrate ears, using techniques such as light microscopy, electron microscopy and micro-CT scanning. I then use models of middle ear function to investigate the likely hearing range of the animal in question, in order to answer questions about how hearing is matched to particular acoustical properties of the environment that the animal lives in, and how the ear might have evolved. My two main research streams involve mammalian and amphibian ears.
Considering mammalian ears, I have long been interested in how small mammals can be adapted towards detecting low-frequency sound. For example, golden moles have relatively enormous ear ossicles, which may allow these burrowing African insectivores to detect ground vibrations by means of bone conduction. In my frog work, I have been interested in how the middle ear structures vibrate, and how the intricate structure of the inner ear helps with hearing.
Prof Peter Narins
Prof Pim van Dijk
Course organiser: Physiology of Organisms
PoO, HOM and NST 1B Physiology
Mason MJ, (2016), Structure and function of the mammalian middle ear. I: Large middle ears in small desert mammals, Journal of Anatomy, 228: 284-299
Mason MJ, (2016), Structure and function of the mammalian middle ear. II: Inferring function from structure, Journal of Anatomy, 228: 300-312
Mason MJ, (2015), Functional morphology of rodent middle ears, in Evolution of the Rodents: Advances in Phylogeny, Functional Morphology and Development, 373-404. Cox, P.G. & Hautier, L. (eds). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Mason MJ, Segenhout JM, Cobo-Cuan A, Quiñones PM, Van Dijk P, (2015), The frog inner ear: picture perfect? Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 16: 171-188
Mason MJ, (2013), Of mice, moles and guinea-pigs: functional morphology of the middle ear in living mammals, Hearing Research, 301: 4-18
Mason MJ, Farr MRB, (2013), Flexibility within the middle ears of vertebrates, Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 127: 2-14
Lavender D, Taraskin SN, Mason MJ, (2011), Mass distribution and rotational inertia of "microtype" and "freely mobile" middle ear ossicles in rodents, Hearing Research, 282: 97-107
Van Dijk P, Mason MJ, Schoffelen RLM, Narins PM, Meenderink SWF, (2011), Mechanics of the frog ear, Hearing Research 273: 46-58
Veselka N, McErlain DD, Holdsworth DW, Eger JL, Chhem RK, Mason MJ, Brain KL, Faure PA, Fenton MB, (2010), A bony connection signals laryngeal echolocation in bats, Nature, 463: 939-942