The basilar membrane is responsible for perceiving and analyzing the tones that are received from the external environment and converting them to electrical signals that can be understood by the brain; thus, damage to the basilar membrane will likely affect one's ability to differentiate the tone of various sounds. The basilar membrane is found in the inner ear, and has small hair-like extensions, known as stereocilia, extending from their surfaces. The stereocilia are responsible for detecting vibration and creating a differential motion between the basilar membrane and the tectorial membrane, which will result in different chemical signals being released to create an electric signal that can be easily perceived by the neurons in the brain.
The thickness of the basilar membrane will vary from one end to the other, thus ensuring that the vibrational motions are not evenly distributed. The differences in the vibration are used to gauge the type and amount of chemical stimulus that should be released by the cells and receptors, which in turn will be used for differentiating the frequency and tone of the various sounds.
Depending on which hair follicles are being stimulated on the basilar membrane, different groups of ganglion and receptors will respond to the stimuli.