Perception of segregated sources is essential in navigating cluttered acoustic environments. A basic mechanism to implement this process is the temporal coherence principle. It postulates that a signal is perceived as emitted from a single source only when all of its features are temporally modulated coherently, causing them to bind perceptually. Here we report on neural correlates of this process as rapidly reshaped interactions in primary auditory cortex, measured in three different ways: as changes in response rates, as adaptations of spectrotemporal receptive fields following stimulation by temporally coherent and incoherent tone sequences, and as changes in spiking correlations during the tone sequences. Responses, sensitivity and presumed connectivity were rapidly enhanced by synchronous stimuli, and suppressed by alternating (asynchronous) sounds, but only when the animals engaged in task performance and were attentive to the stimuli. Temporal coherence and attention are therefore both important factors in auditory scene analysis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 DC005779 and R01 DC007657) and grants from Army Research Office and the European Research Council to S.A.S.