Perception of auditory signals


Address for correspondence: Gregg Recanzone, Center for Neuroscience, University of California, 1544 Newton Ct, Davis, CA 95618.


Auditory signals are decomposed into discrete frequency elements early in the transduction process, yet somehow these signals are recombined into the rich acoustic percepts that we readily identify and are familiar with. The cerebral cortex is necessary for the perception of these signals, and studies from several laboratories over the past decade have made significant advances in our understanding of the neuronal mechanisms underlying auditory perception. This review will concentrate on recent studies in the macaque monkey that indicate that the activity of populations of neurons better accounts for the perceptual abilities compared to the activity of single neurons. The best examples address whether the acoustic space is represented along the “where” pathway in the caudal regions of auditory cortex. Our current understanding of how such population activity could also underlie the perception of the nonspatial features of acoustic stimuli is reviewed, as is how multisensory interactions can influence our auditory perception.