Distributed representation of perceptual categories in the auditory cortex

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Categorical perception is a process by which a continuous stimulus space is partitioned to represent discrete sensory events. Early experience has been shown to shape categorical perception and enlarge cortical representations of experienced stimuli in the sensory cortex. The present study examines the hypothesis that enlargement in cortical stimulus representations is a mechanism of categorical perception. Perceptual discrimination and identification behaviors were analyzed in model auditory cortices that incorporated sound exposure-induced plasticity effects. The model auditory cortex with over-representations of specific stimuli exhibited categorical perception behaviors for those specific stimuli. These results indicate that enlarged stimulus representations in the sensory cortex may be a mechanism for categorical perceptual learning.

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