Modeling the auditory scene: predictive regularity representations and perceptual objects

István Winkler*, Susan L. Denham, Israel Nelken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

407 Scopus citations


Predictive processing of information is essential for goal-directed behavior. We offer an account of auditory perception suggesting that representations of predictable patterns, or 'regularities', extracted from the incoming sounds serve as auditory perceptual objects. The auditory system continuously searches for regularities within the acoustic signal. Primitive regularities may be encoded by neurons adapting their response to specific sounds. Such neurons have been observed in many parts of the auditory system. Representations of the detected regularities produce predictions of upcoming sounds as well as alternative solutions for parsing the composite input into coherent sequences potentially emitted by putative sound sources. Accuracy of the predictions can be utilized for selecting the most likely interpretation of the auditory input. Thus in our view, perception generates hypotheses about the causal structure of the world.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)532-540
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (grant no 231168 – SCANDLE; I.W. and S.D.) and by a grant of the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) to I.N.


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