Stimulus-specific adaptation and deviance detection in the auditory system: experiments and models

Israel Nelken*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA) is the reduction in the response to a common stimulus that does not generalize, or only partially generalizes, to other, rare stimuli. SSA has been proposed to be a correlate of ‘deviance detection’, an important computational task of sensory systems. SSA is ubiquitous in the auditory system: It is found both in cortex and in subcortical stations, and it has been demonstrated in many mammalian species as well as in birds. A number of models have been suggested in the literature to account for SSA in the auditory domain. In this review, the experimental literature is critically examined in relationship to these models. While current models can all account for auditory SSA to some degree, none is fully compatible with the available findings.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)655-663
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported by Grants from the Israeli Science Foundation, The US–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF), the Israeli Ministry of Science (Collaboration Israel–France), and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Flora Antunes helped with the preparation of the figures. Leila Khouri commented on a previous version of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Auditory cortex
  • Electrophysiology
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Synaptic depression


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