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Mechanisms for allocating auditory attention: an auditory saliency map

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Christopher Petkov


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Our nervous system is confronted with a barrage of sensory stimuli, but neural resources are limited and not all stimuli can be processed to the same extent. Mechanisms exist to bias attention toward the particularly salient events, thereby providing a weighted representation of our environment. Our understanding of these mechanisms is still limited, but theoretical models can replicate such a weighting of sensory inputs and provide a basis for understanding the underlying principles. Here, we describe such a model for the auditory system-an auditory saliency map. We experimentally validate the model on natural acoustical scenarios, demonstrating that it reproduces human judgments of auditory saliency and predicts the detectability of salient sounds embedded in noisy backgrounds. In addition, it also predicts the natural orienting behavior of naive macaque monkeys to the same salient stimuli. The structure of the suggested model is identical to that of successfully used visual saliency maps. Hence, we conclude that saliency is determined either by implementing similar mechanisms in different unisensory pathways or by the same mechanism in multisensory areas. In any case, our results demonstrate that different primate sensory systems rely on common principles for extracting relevant sensory events.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kayser C, Petkov CI, Lippert M, Logothetis NK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Current Biology

Year: 2005

Volume: 15

Issue: 21

Pages: 1943-7

Print publication date: 01/01/2005

ISSN (print): 0960-9822

ISSN (electronic): 1879-0445

Publisher: Cell Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2005.09.040


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