From Sensation to Percept: The Neural Signature of Auditory Event-Related Potentials

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014 May;42:148-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.02.009. Epub 2014 Feb 28.


An external auditory stimulus induces an auditory sensation which may lead to a conscious auditory perception. Although the sensory aspect is well known, it is still a question how an auditory stimulus results in an individual's conscious percept. To unravel the uncertainties concerning the neural correlates of a conscious auditory percept, event-related potentials may serve as a useful tool. In the current review we mainly wanted to shed light on the perceptual aspects of auditory processing and therefore we mainly focused on the auditory late-latency responses. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that perception is an active process in which the brain searches for the information it expects to be present, suggesting that auditory perception requires the presence of both bottom-up, i.e. sensory and top-down, i.e. prediction-driven processing. Therefore, the auditory evoked potentials will be interpreted in the context of the Bayesian brain model, in which the brain predicts which information it expects and when this will happen. The internal representation of the auditory environment will be verified by sensation samples of the environment (P50, N100). When this incoming information violates the expectation, it will induce the emission of a prediction error signal (Mismatch Negativity), activating higher-order neural networks and inducing the update of prior internal representations of the environment (P300).

Keywords: Auditory evoked potentials; Auditory sensation; Bayesian brain; Conscious perception; Event-related potentials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Tinnitus / physiopathology