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Hear Res. 2007 Jul;229(1-2):204-12. Epub 2007 Jan 8.

Neural and behavioral correlates of auditory categorization.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.


Goal-directed behavior is the essence of adaptation because it allows humans and other animals to respond dynamically to different environmental scenarios. Goal-directed behavior can be characterized as the formation of dynamic links between stimuli and actions. One important attribute of goal-directed behavior is that linkages can be formed based on how a stimulus is categorized. That is, links are formed based on the membership of a stimulus in a particular functional category. In this review, we review categorization with an emphasis on auditory categorization. We focus on the role of categorization in language and non-human vocalizations. We present behavioral data indicating that non-human primates categorize and respond to vocalizations based on differences in their putative meaning and not differences in their acoustics. Finally, we present evidence suggesting that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex plays an important role in processing auditory objects and has a specific role in the representation of auditory categories.

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