Modeling the auditory scene: predictive regularity representations and perceptual objects

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Dec;13(12):532-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.09.003. Epub 2009 Oct 12.


Predictive processing of information is essential for goal-directed behavior. We offer an account of auditory perception suggesting that representations of predictable patterns, or 'regularities', extracted from the incoming sounds serve as auditory perceptual objects. The auditory system continuously searches for regularities within the acoustic signal. Primitive regularities may be encoded by neurons adapting their response to specific sounds. Such neurons have been observed in many parts of the auditory system. Representations of the detected regularities produce predictions of upcoming sounds as well as alternative solutions for parsing the composite input into coherent sequences potentially emitted by putative sound sources. Accuracy of the predictions can be utilized for selecting the most likely interpretation of the auditory input. Thus in our view, perception generates hypotheses about the causal structure of the world.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animal Communication
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Predictive Value of Tests