The shape of ears to come: dynamic coding of auditory space

Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Jun 1;5(6):261-270. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01660-0.


In order to pinpoint the location of a sound source, we make use of a variety of spatial cues that arise from the direction-dependent manner in which sounds interact with the head, torso and external ears. Accurate sound localization relies on the neural discrimination of tiny differences in the values of these cues and requires that the brain circuits involved be calibrated to the cues experienced by each individual. There is growing evidence that the capacity for recalibrating auditory localization continues well into adult life. Many details of how the brain represents auditory space and of how those representations are shaped by learning and experience remain elusive. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the task of processing auditory spatial information is distributed over different regions of the brain, some working hierarchically, others independently and in parallel, and each apparently using different strategies for encoding sound source location.