Stimulus-specific adaptation beyond pure tones

Israel Nelken*, Amit Yaron, Ana Polterovich, Itai Hershenhoren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Detecting rare and surprising events is a useful strategy for sensory systems. In the human auditory system, deviance detection is indexed by an important component of the auditory event-related potentials, the mismatch negativity (MMN). Responses of single neurons in the inferior colliculus, medial geniculate body, and auditory cortex of mammals (cats, rats, and mice) show responses that share some properties with MMN: they are evoked by rare events, are preattentive (in as much as they occur in anesthetized animals), and, at least at the level of primary auditory cortex, cannot be accounted for by simple fatigue of the incoming sensory information. Here we extend these results to deviations beyond tone frequency. Recording in rat primary auditory cortex and using oddball sequences consisting of two frozen tokens of broadband noise samples, we found differences between the responses to the same token when used as the common and when used as the deviant, showing an exquisite sensitivity to the small differences between two spectro-temporally similar sounds. Similarly, differential adaptation can be demonstrated when using two word-like stimuli that have been derived from human speech but adapted to the rat auditory system. Thus, differential adaptation to common and rare sounds is present also with sounds whose complexity mirrors that of natural environments.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationBasic Aspects of Hearing
Subtitle of host publicationPhysiology and Perception
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media, LLC
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781461415893
StatePublished - 2013

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants to I.N. from the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF), the German-Israeli Foundation (GIF), the US-Israel Binational Foundation (BSF), the Israeli Ministry of Health to under the framework of ERA-Net NEURON, and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.


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