Auditory Frequency and Intensity Discrimination Explained Using a Cortical Population Rate Code

Christophe Micheyl, Paul R. Schrater, Andrew J. Oxenham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The nature of the neural codes for pitch and loudness, two basic auditory attributes, has been a key question in neuroscience for over century. A currently widespread view is that sound intensity (subjectively, loudness) is encoded in spike rates, whereas sound frequency (subjectively, pitch) is encoded in precise spike timing. Here, using information-theoretic analyses, we show that the spike rates of a population of virtual neural units with frequency-tuning and spike-count correlation characteristics similar to those measured in the primary auditory cortex of primates, contain sufficient statistical information to account for the smallest frequency-discrimination thresholds measured in human listeners. The same population, and the same spike-rate code, can also account for the intensity-discrimination thresholds of humans. These results demonstrate the viability of a unified rate-based cortical population code for both sound frequency (pitch) and sound intensity (loudness), and thus suggest a resolution to a long-standing puzzle in auditory neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1003336
JournalPLoS computational biology
Volume9
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Auditory Frequency and Intensity Discrimination Explained Using a Cortical Population Rate Code'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this