Single neuron and population coding of natural sounds in auditory cortex

Adi Mizrahi*, Amos Shalev, Israel Nelken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The auditory system drives behavior using information extracted from sounds. Early in the auditory hierarchy, circuits are highly specialized for detecting basic sound features. However, already at the level of the auditory cortex the functional organization of the circuits and the underlying coding principles become different. Here, we review some recent progress in our understanding of single neuron and population coding in primary auditory cortex, focusing on natural sounds. We discuss possible mechanisms explaining why single neuron responses to simple sounds cannot predict responses to natural stimuli. We describe recent work suggesting that structural features like local subnetworks rather than smoothly mapped tonotopy are essential components of population coding. Finally, we suggest a synthesis of how single neurons and subnetworks may be involved in coding natural sounds.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank G Rothschild and members of the Mizrahi and Nelken labs for discussions and comments on the manuscript. AM is supported by the Israeli Science Foundation and the European Research Council (grant number 203994 ). IN is supported by grants from the Israeli Science Foundation and the US-Israeli Binational Science Foundation (BSF) . This work has also been supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation .


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