Alfonso Corti: The discovery of the hearing organ

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This beautiful book celebrates the discovery of the hearing organ by the Italian anatomist Alfonso Corti in 1851. He first described the microscopic anatomy of the organ that contains the cellular receptors that transduce and carry airborne vibrations into electric signals to the auditory nerve and brain. Already by then, and still today, this organ was and is regarded as the most difficult of the organs in the human body to study. Indeed, it is a stealthy and miniscule organ surrounded by the hardest bone in the body. Since his discovery, researchers have continued to fascinate over this complex and gracile organ.

SKU: 978-90-6299-309-3 Category:



Alfonso Corti: the Man, his Life, his Works
Eugenio Mira

The University of Pavia in Alfonso Corti’s Time
Maria Carla Garbarino, Paolo Mazzarello

Corti’s research behind his discovery of the inner ear cells (1848-1851)
Albert Mudry

Alfonso Corti, «Recherches sur l’organe de l’ouïe des mammifères Première partie: Limaçon»
Alessandro Martini, Stefano Martini, Cinzia Tortorella and Albert Mudry

Knowledge on the organ of hearing before and after Alfonso Corti In the Greek world, up to Aristotle
Stefano Martini

The Studium Patavinum: from Vesalius to Valsalva
Alessandro Martini, Stefano Martini

The ear and hearing in the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries The Italian debate that paved the way to the golden age of otology
Andrea Cozza

Research on the inner ear after Corti
Alessandro Martini

Morphology and Phylogenesis of the Cochlea – A review
Alessandro Martini and Cinzia Tortorella

«Recherches sur l’organe de l’ouïe des mammifères Première partie: Limaçon» (anastatic copy)
Alfonso Corti

Alfonso Corti was 28 years old when he wrote the first draft of his most famous work (Recherches sur l’organe de l’ouïe des mammifères) while in Paris in 1850, probably at the Sorbonne. His work was published in June of the following year. The human and scientific story of this young medical student is fascinating. He left Pavia, the city of his youth and where he had begun his medical studies, and went to complete them in Vienna, where he graduated. He then continued his studies in several European cities – in Bern, Paris, London, Utrecht, and Würzburg – before completely cutting all his ties with the scientific world to which he had been so dedicated when he was just 32 years of age.
The name of Corti quickly became known throughout the world, and synonymous with the organ of hearing, thanks to Joseph Hyrtl and Albert Kölliker, who had been his teachers and mentors. Almost nothing was known about Alfonso Corti as a scholar, however, until the publication of biographical articles by Gottfried Bruckner (1913) and Josef Schaffer (1914), and especially the monograph by Bruno Pincherle published in 1932.
With the present volume, coinciding with the bicentenary of Corti’s birth, we wanted to explore this man’s human and scientific history, the environment in Pavia and Europe where Corti grew up and conducted his research. We look at what was known about the inner ear in his time, and what was learned after he made his discoveries. A final chapter contains an up-to-date review of the anatomy-physiology and phylogeny of the human hearing organ. In closing, we include the anastatic reproduction of Alfonso Corti’s original article, taken from a copy at the University of Padua of the volume of the journal that published it in 1851.
This book would not have been possible without the help of many. Laura Astolfi, Anna Rita Fetoni, Marlies Knipper, Salvatore Iurato, Jean-Luc Puel, Rémy Pujol, Marcelo Rivolta, Marta Roccio, Pascal Senn, Olivier Sterkers sent us suggestions and gave us permission to publish their personal material. Andrea Cozza, Maria Carla Garbarino, Stefano Martini
and Cinzia Tortorella have made important contributions. Alfonso and Benedetta Corti, Francesco dal Negro, Antonietta Mira and Giuseppe Spinozzi in Pavia and Anna Agostinelli, Anna Colombo, Valerio Maria di Pasquale Fiasca e Eva Muraro Brotto in Padova, took part in our research on the sources and in the translation of the original texts. Frances Coburn revised the English edition. In particular, our gratitude goes to
Helge Rask-Andersen, perhaps today’s greatest expert on the human cochlea, and a decades-long friend, who has reviewed some of the chapters of this volume and agreed to write the preface.
Well-deserved thanks to our publishers, Padova University Press, for their patient and accurate handling of the book’s publication, and to the Amplifon Centre for Research and Studies (CRS) Italy for their support for this initiative.
Alessandro Martini, Paolo Mazzarello, Eugenio Mira, Albert Mudry

Additional information

Weight 800 g
Dimensions 140 × 230 cm

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9062993095, 978-90-6299-309-3



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