A roadmap for the study of conscious audition and its neural basis

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2017 Feb 19;372(1714):20160103. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0103. Epub 2017 Jan 2.


How and which aspects of neural activity give rise to subjective perceptual experience-i.e. conscious perception-is a fundamental question of neuroscience. To date, the vast majority of work concerning this question has come from vision, raising the issue of generalizability of prominent resulting theories. However, recent work has begun to shed light on the neural processes subserving conscious perception in other modalities, particularly audition. Here, we outline a roadmap for the future study of conscious auditory perception and its neural basis, paying particular attention to how conscious perception emerges (and of which elements or groups of elements) in complex auditory scenes. We begin by discussing the functional role of the auditory system, particularly as it pertains to conscious perception. Next, we ask: what are the phenomena that need to be explained by a theory of conscious auditory perception? After surveying the available literature for candidate neural correlates, we end by considering the implications that such results have for a general theory of conscious perception as well as prominent outstanding questions and what approaches/techniques can best be used to address them.This article is part of the themed issue 'Auditory and visual scene analysis'.

Keywords: audition; auditory scene analysis; conscious perception; neural correlates of consciousness; perceptual awareness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Consciousness*
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological