Frequency-specific contributions to auditory perceptual priors: Testing the predictive-coding hypothesis

Itay Lieder, Aviel Sulem, Merav Ahissar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceptual priors formed by recent stimuli bias our immediate percept. These priors, expressing our implicit expectations, affect both high- and low-level processing stages. Yet, the nature of the inter-level interaction is unknown. Do priors operate top-down and bias low-level features toward recently experienced objects (predictive-coding hypothesis), or are low-level biases bottom-up driven and formed by local memory circuits? To decipher between these options in auditory perception, we used the “missing fundamental illusion”, enabling the dissociation of low-level components from the high-level pitch. Surprisingly, in contrast to predictive coding, when the fundamental frequency was missing, pitch contraction across timbre categories was not found to the previously perceived high-level pitch, but to the physically present frequency. This bottom-up contribution of low-level memory components to perceptual priors, operating independently of recent high-level percepts, may stabilize the perceptual organization and underlie continuity between similar low-level features belonging to different object categories in the auditory modality.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number108946
Issue number2
StatePublished - 16 Feb 2024

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  • Biological sciences
  • Neuroscience
  • Sensory neuroscience


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