The everyday auditory environment consists of multiple simultaneously active sources with overlapping temporal and spectral acoustic properties. Despite the seemingly chaotic composite signal impinging on our ears, the resulting perception is of an orderly 'auditory scene' that is organized according to sources and auditory events, allowing us to select messages easily, recognize familiar sound patterns, and distinguish deviant or novel ones. Recent data suggest that these perceptual achievements are mainly based on processes of a cognitive nature ('sensory intelligence') in the auditory cortex. Even higher cognitive processes than previously thought, such as those that organize the auditory input, extract the common invariant patterns shared by a number of acoustically varying sounds, or anticipate the auditory events of the immediate future, occur at the level of sensory cortex (even when attention is not directed towards the sensory input).
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