Perceptual learning in the developing auditory cortex

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13 Scopus citations


A hallmark of the developing auditory cortex is the heightened plasticity in the critical period, during which acoustic inputs can indelibly alter cortical function. However, not all sounds in the natural acoustic environment are ethologically relevant. How does the auditory system resolve relevant sounds from the acoustic environment in such an early developmental stage when most associative learning mechanisms are not yet fully functional? What can the auditory system learn from one of the most important classes of sounds, animal vocalizations? How does naturalistic acoustic experience shape cortical sound representation and perception? To answer these questions, we need to consider an unusual strategy, statistical learning, where what the system needs to learn is embedded in the sensory input. Here, I will review recent findings on how certain statistical structures of natural animal vocalizations shape auditory cortical acoustic representations, and how cortical plasticity may underlie learned categorical sound perception. These results will be discussed in the context of human speech perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-724
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Auditory cortex
  • Categorical perception
  • Development
  • Perceptual learning
  • Statistical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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