Research Theme Beyond the Neuron
Research Focus


  • Middle Ear
  • Inner Ear
  • Clinical Conditions

  • Hearing and balance deficits
  • Equipment & Techniques

  • Microscopy
  • Computerised tomography
  • Science Culture

  • Mentorship
  • Teaching
  • Public Outreach
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    Professor Matthew Mason

    University Position


    I investigate the structure, function and evolution of the peripheral auditory system. Comparative anatomy is backed up with more recent techniques, such as micro-CT and laser interferometry, in order to visualise the middle ear structures and examine their motion. Measurements are incorporated into models of middle ear function, to establish the hearing ranges and sensitivities of the ears, the results being considered in the light of the ecology of the animals. One main focus has been the function of the extraordinarily enlarged ossicles of some subterranean mammals, apparently used for detection of seismic vibrations by a form of inertial bone conduction. Another focus of my research has been the function of the middle ear of amphibians, which I have shown to be considerably more complicated than has previously been realised, and which may also be used for detection of vibrations other than airborne sound waves.

    The ear of the naked mole-rat

    The inner ear of the naked mole-rat


    Key Publications

    Internal vascular channel architecture in human auditory ossicles.

    Journal: Journal of Anatomy
    E-pub date: 31 Aug 2022
    Authors: SM Manoharan, R Gray, J Hamilton, MJ Mason

    Evidence of auditory insensitivity to vocalization frequencies in two frogs.

    Journal: Sci Rep
    E-pub date: 21 Sep 2017
    Authors: S Goutte, MJ Mason, J Christensen-Dalsgaard, F Montealegre-Z, BD Chivers, FA Sarria-S, MM Antoniazzi, C Jared, L Almeida Sato, L Felipe Toledo

    Early development of the malleus and incus in humans.

    Journal: J Anat
    E-pub date: 1 Dec 2016
    Authors: CM Burford, MJ Mason


    Comparative morphology of the avian bony columella.

    Journal: Anat Rec (Hoboken)
    E-pub date: 1 May 2024
    Authors: J Peacock, GM Spellman, DJ Field, MJ Mason, G Mayr

    Parallel evolution of semicircular canal form and sensitivity in subterranean mammals.

    Journal: J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol
    E-pub date: 1 Nov 2022
    Authors: J Goyens, S Baeckens, ESJ Smith, J Pozzi, MJ Mason

    The naked truth: a comprehensive clarification and classification of current ‘myths’ in naked mole-rat biology.

    Journal: Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc
    E-pub date: 1 Feb 2022
    Authors: R Buffenstein, V Amoroso, B Andziak, S Avdieiev, J Azpurua, AJ Barker, NC Bennett, MA Brieño-Enríquez, GN Bronner, C Coen, MA Delaney, CM Dengler-Crish, YH Edrey, CG Faulkes, D Frankel, G Friedlander, PA Gibney, V Gorbunova, C Hine, MM Holmes, JUM Jarvis, Y Kawamura, N Kutsukake, C Kenyon, WT Khaled, T Kikusui, J Kissil, S Lagestee, J Larson, A Lauer, LA Lavrenchenko, A Lee, JB Levitt, GR Lewin, KN Lewis Hardell, TD Lin, MJ Mason, D McCloskey, M McMahon, K Miura, K Mogi, V Narayan, TP O'Connor, K Okanoya, MJ O'Riain, TJ Park, NJ Place, K Podshivalova, ME Pamenter, SJ Pyott, J Reznick, JG Ruby, AB Salmon, J Santos-Sacchi, DK Sarko, A Seluanov, A Shepard, M Smith, KB Storey, X Tian, EN Vice, M Viltard, A Watarai, E Wywial, M Yamakawa, ED Zemlemerova, M Zions, ESJ Smith

    A Putative Mechanism for Magnetoreception by Electromagnetic Induction in the Pigeon Inner Ear.

    Journal: Curr Biol
    E-pub date: 2 Dec 2019
    Authors: S Nimpf, GC Nordmann, D Kagerbauer, EP Malkemper, L Landler, A Papadaki-Anastasopoulou, L Ushakova, A Wenninger-Weinzierl, M Novatchkova, P Vincent, T Lendl, M Colombini, MJ Mason, DA Keays

    Mechanisms of Vibration Detection in Mammals

    E-pub date: 1 Aug 2019
    Authors: MJ Mason, LMD Wenger

    Ectopic otoconial formation in the lagena of the pigeon inner ear.

    Journal: Biol Open
    E-pub date: 2 Aug 2018
    Authors: EP Malkemper, MJ Mason, D Kagerbauer, S Nimpf, DA Keays

    The middle and inner ears of the Palaeogene golden mole Namachloris: A comparison with extant species.

    Journal: J Morphol
    E-pub date: 1 Mar 2018
    Authors: MJ Mason, NC Bennett, M Pickford

    Internally coupled ears in living mammals.

    Journal: Biol Cybern
    E-pub date: 1 Oct 2016
    Authors: MJ Mason

    Vocal development during postnatal growth and ear morphology in a shrew that generates seismic vibrations, Diplomesodon pulchellum.

    Journal: Behav Processes
    E-pub date: 1 Sep 2015
    Authors: AS Zaytseva, IA Volodin, MJ Mason, R Frey, G Fritsch, OG Ilchenko, EV Volodina

    The Frog Inner Ear: Picture Perfect?

    Journal: J Assoc Res Otolaryngol
    E-pub date: 1 Apr 2015
    Authors: MJ Mason, JM Segenhout, A Cobo-Cuan, PM Quiñones, P van Dijk

    Functional morphology of rodent middle ears

    E-pub date: 1 Jan 2015
    Authors: MJ Mason

    Flexibility within the middle ears of vertebrates.

    Journal: J Laryngol Otol
    E-pub date: 1 Jan 2013
    Authors: MJ Mason, MRB Farr

    Mechanics of the frog ear

    Journal: Hear Res
    E-pub date: 1 Mar 2011
    Authors: P Van Dijk, MJ Mason, RLM Schoffelen, PM Narins, SWF Meenderink

    Middle ear structure and bone conduction in Spalax, Eospalax, and Tachyoryctes mole-rats (Rodentia: Spalacidae).

    Journal: Journal of Morphology
    E-pub date: 1 Apr 2010
    Authors: MJ Mason, FWS Lai, J-G Li, E Nevo

    A bony connection signals laryngeal echolocation in bats.

    Journal: Nature
    E-pub date: 18 Feb 2010
    Authors: N Veselka, DD McErlain, DW Holdsworth, JL Eger, RK Chhem, MJ Mason, KL Brain, PA Faure, MB Fenton

    Middle ear morphology in dormice (Rodentia : Gliridae)

    Journal: MAMM BIOL
    E-pub date: 1 Aug 2008
    Authors: MRB Farr, MJ Mason

    The effect of auditory stimulation on the tensor tympani in patients following stapedectomy.

    Journal: Acta Oto-Laryngologica
    E-pub date: 22 Feb 2008
    Authors: SEM Jones, MJ Mason, VS Sunkaraneni, DM Baguley

    Ossicular density in golden moles (Chrysochloridae).

    Journal: J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol
    E-pub date: 1 Dec 2006
    Authors: MJ Mason, SJ Lucas, ER Wise, RS Stein, MJ Duer

    Evolution of the middle ear apparatus in Talpid moles.

    Journal: J Morphol
    E-pub date: 1 Jun 2006
    Authors: MJ Mason

    Preliminary evidence for the use of microseismic cues for navigation by the Namib golden mole.

    Journal: J Acoust Soc Am
    E-pub date: 1 Feb 2006
    Authors: ER Lewis, PM Narins, JUM Jarvis, G Bronner, MJ Mason

    Physiological vulnerability of distortion product otoacoustic emissions from the amphibian ear.

    Journal: J Acoust Soc Am
    E-pub date: 1 Oct 2003
    Authors: P van Dijk, PM Narins, MJ Mason

    Sex differences in the middle ear of the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

    Journal: Brain Behav Evol
    E-pub date: 1 Aug 2003
    Authors: MJ Mason, CC Lin, PM Narins

    Seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti): a review.

    Journal: J Comp Psychol
    E-pub date: 1 Jun 2002
    Authors: MJ Mason, PM Narins

    Seismic sensitivity in the desert golden mole (Eremitalpa granti): A review

    E-pub date: 1 Jun 2002
    Authors: MJ Mason, PM Narins

    Seismic signal use by fossorial mammals

    Journal: American Zoologist
    E-pub date: 1 Oct 2001
    Authors: MJ Mason