Georg von Békésy


Georg von Békésy

Infobox Scientist
name = Georg von Békésy
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image_width =150px
caption = Békésy won a Nobel Prize in 1961 for his research on the workings of the inner ear
birth_date = June 3, 1899
birth_place = Budapest
death_date = June 13, 1972
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residence =
citizenship =
nationality = Hungarian
ethnicity =
field = biophysicist
work_institutions =
alma_mater =
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students =
known_for = cochlea
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influences =
influenced =
prizes = 1961, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
religion =
footnotes =

Georg von Békésy (Békésy György) (June 3, 1899 – June 13, 1972) was a Hungarian biophysicist born in Budapest.

In 1961, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the function of the cochlea in the mammalian hearing organ. The decision of the prize committee had been controversial from the beginning, and research of the past three decades revealed that von Békésy’s main conclusions were in error.

Research

Békésy developed a method for dissecting the inner ear of human cadavers while leaving the cochlea partly intact. By using strobe photography and silver flakes as a marker, he was able to observe that the basilar membrane moves like a surface wave when stimulated by sound. Because of the structure of the cochlea and the basilar membrane, different frequencies of sound cause the maximum amplitudes of the waves to occur at different places on the basilar membrane along the coil of the cochlea.Goldstein, B. 2001. "Sensation and Perception, 6th ed." London: Wadsworth.]

He concluded that his observations showed how different sound wave frequencies are locally dispersed before exciting different nerve fibers that lead from the cochlea to the brain. He theorized that the placement of each sensory cell (hair cell) along the coil of the cochlea corresponds to a specific frequency of sound (the so-called tonotopy). Békésy later developed a mechanical model of the cochlea, which confirmed the concept of frequency dispersion by the basilar membrane in the mammalian cochlea. But this model could not provide any information as to a possible function of this frequency dispersion in the process of hearing.

In a posthumous 1974 article looking back over progress in the field, he remarked "In time, I came to the conclusion that the dehydrated cats and the application of Fourier analysis to hearing problems became more and more a handicap for research in hearing," [cite journal | title = "Some Biophysical Experiments from Fifty Years Ago" | author = Georg von Békésy | journal = Annual Review of Physiology | year = 1974 | url = http://books.google.com/books?id=jCkJAAAAIAAJ&q=%22more+and+more+a+handicap%22+fourier&dq=%22more+and+more+a+handicap%22+fourier&ei=4zDCRoLqLJPWoQKf2qmQAg&ie=ISO-8859-1&pgis=1 | doi = 10.1146/ | doi_brokendate = 2008-07-01 ] referring to the difficulties in getting animal preparations to behave as when alive, and the misleading common interpretations of Fourier analysis in hearing research.

Biography

Békésy was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of diplomat Alexander von Békésy and his wife Paula. He went to school in Budapest, Istanbul, Munich, and Zürich. He studied chemistry in Berne and received his PhD from the University of Budapest in 1926.

During World War II, Békésy worked for the Hungarian Post Office, where he did research on telecommunications. This research led him to become interested in the workings of the ear. In 1946, he left Hungary to follow this line of research at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

In 1947, he moved to the United States, working at Harvard University until 1966. He became a professor at the University of Hawaii in 1966 and died in Honolulu.

References

Further reading

*Citation
id = PMID:15195664
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15195664
last=Czeizel
first=Andrew E
publication-date=
year=2004
title=Famous Hungarian physicians
volume=364
issue=9434
periodical=Lancet
pages=581–2
doi = 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16847-5
journal = The Lancet

*Citation
id = PMID:14584991
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14584991
last=Evans
first=Rand B
publication-date=2003 Sep
year=2003
title=Georg von Békésy: visualization of hearing
volume=58
issue=9
periodical=The American psychologist
pages=742–6
doi = 10.1037/0003-066X.58.9.742
journal = American Psychologist

*Citation
id = PMID:10406402
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10406402
last=Raju
first=T N
publication-date=1999 Jul 3
year=1999
title=The Nobel chronicles. 1961: Georg von Békésy (1899-1972)
volume=354
issue=9172
periodical=Lancet
pages=80

*Citation
id = PMID:8350644
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8350644
last=Shampo
first=M A
last2=Kyle
first2=R A
publication-date=1993 Jul
year=1993
title=Georg von Békésy--audiology and the cochlea
volume=68
issue=7
periodical=Mayo Clin. Proc.
pages=706

*Citation
id = PMID:3525485
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3525485
last=Tonndorf
first=J
publication-date=1986
year=1986
title=Georg von Békésy and his work
volume=22
issue=
periodical=Hear. Res.
pages=3–10

*Citation
id = PMID:3525483
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3525483
last=Bernhard
first=C G
publication-date=1986
year=1986
title=Georg von Békésy and the Karolinska Institute
volume=22
issue=
periodical=Hear. Res.
pages=13–7

*Citation
id = PMID:3525481
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3525481
publication-date=1986
year=1986
title=Proceedings of Nobel Symposium 63. Cellular mechanisms in hearing (en hommage à Georg von Békésy). Karlskoga, 2-6 September 1985
volume=22
issue=
periodical=Hear. Res.
pages=1–326

*Citation
id = PMID:4594785
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4594785
last=Tonndorf
first=J
publication-date=1974 Mar
year=1974
title=In memoriam Georg von Békésy 1899-1972
volume=55
issue=3
periodical=J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
pages=576–7

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id = PMID:4582926
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4582926
last=Glorig
first=A
publication-date=
year=
title=Georg von Békésy 1899-1972
volume=12
issue=5
periodical=Audiology
pages=540–1

*Citation
id = PMID:4571620
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4571620
last=Keidel
first=W D
publication-date=1973 Feb
year=1973
title=In memorian Professor Dr. phil. Dr. med. h.c. Georg v. Békésy
volume=12
issue=2
periodical=Kybernetik
pages=116–8

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id = PMID:4568685
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4568685
last=Ratliff
first=F
publication-date=1973 Jan 29
year=1973
title=Georg von Békésy
volume=16
issue=3
periodical=Experimental brain research. Experimentelle Hirnforschung. Expérimentation cérébrale
pages=219–20

*Citation
id = PMID:4567951
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4567951
last=Keidel
first=W D
publication-date=1973 Jan
year=1973
title= [In memoriam Professor Dr.phil.Dr.med.h.c. Georg von Békésy]
volume=52
issue=1
periodical=Zeitschrift für Laryngologie, Rhinologie, Otologie und ihre Grenzgebiete
pages=1–6

*Citation
id = PMID:4568444
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4568444
last=Davis
first=H
publication-date=1972 Oct
year=1972
title=Georg von Békésy, 1899-1972
volume=81
issue=5
periodical=Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol.
pages=750–1

*Citation
id = PMID:4563147
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4563147
last=Zwislocki
first=J J
publication-date=1972 Oct
year=1972
title=Georg von Békésy, 1899-1972
volume=52
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periodical=J. Acoust. Soc. Am.
pages=1094–5

*Citation
id = PMID:4560564
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4560564
publication-date=1972 Sep
year=1972
title=Georg von Beksey
volume=14
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periodical=ASHA
pages=513

*Citation
id = PMID:4564741
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4564741
last=Tonndorf
first=J
publication-date=1972
year=1972
title= [Obituary for Georg von Békésy (1899-1972)]
volume=203
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periodical=Archiv für klinische und experimentelle Ohren- Nasen- und Kehlkopfheilkunde
pages=81–5

*Citation
id = PMID:5343023
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5343023
publication-date=1967 Jun
year=1967
title=The American Speech and Hearing Association presents the honors of the Association
volume=9
issue=6
periodical=ASHA
pages=222

*Citation
id = PMID:13971073
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13971073
last=BERNHARD
first=C G
publication-date=1962
year=1962
title=Presentation of the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine (1961) to George von BEKESY
volume=50
issue=
periodical=Transactions of the American Otological Society
pages=332–6

*Citation
id = PMID:14037041
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14037041
last=KEIDEL
first=W D
publication-date=1961 Dec
year=1961
title= [G. von BEKESY Nobel prize winner 1961.]
volume=40
issue=
periodical=Zeitschrift für Laryngologie, Rhinologie, Otologie und ihre Grenzgebiete
pages=885–8

*Citation
id = PMID:14037251
url= http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14037251
last=PALVA
first=T
publication-date=1961
year=1961
title= [The 1961 Nobel prize in medical science and physiology (Georg von BEKESY).]
volume=77
issue=
periodical=Duodecim; lääketieteellinen aikakauskirja
pages=791–2

External links

* [http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1961/bekesy-bio.html Nobel Prize Biography]
* [http://www5.pbrc.hawaii.edu/bekesy/ Georg von Békésy] page at the [http://www.pbrc.hawaii.edu/ Pacific Biosciences Research Center]
* [http://www.pbrc.hawaii.edu/bln/ Békésy Laboratory of Neurobiology] website
* [http://www5.pbrc.hawaii.edu/bekesy/gallery/ Békésy art collection]
* [http://www.kfki.hu/fszemle/archivum/fsz9905/bekesy.html My experiences in different laboratories] , autobiographical speech by von Békésy


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  • Georg von Bekesy — Georg von Békésy (* 3. Juni 1899 in Budapest als Békésy György; † 13. Juni 1972 in Honolulu, Hawaii) war ein ungarisch US amerikanischer Physiker und Physiologe. Békésy schuf eine Hörtheorie, die die damals neuen Erkenntnisse über den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Georg von Békésy — (* 3. Juni 1899 in Budapest als Békésy György; † 13. Juni 1972 in Honolulu, Hawaii) war ein ungarisch US amerikanischer Biophysiker und Physiologe. Békésy schuf eine Hörtheorie, die die damals neuen Erkenntnisse über den anatomischen Aufbau des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Von Békésy — /von bay keuh shee/; Hung. /fawn bay kay shi/ Georg /gay awrg/; Hung. /ge awrddg/, 1899 1972, U.S. physicist, born in Hungary: Nobel prize for medicine 1961. * * * …   Universalium

  • Von Békésy — /von bay keuh shee/; Hung. /fawn bay kay shi/ Georg /gay awrg/; Hung. /ge awrddg/, 1899 1972, U.S. physicist, born in Hungary: Nobel prize for medicine 1961 …   Useful english dictionary

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