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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Jun;15(6):355-66. doi: 10.1038/nrn3731.

Neural processing of natural sounds.

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Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


We might be forced to listen to a high-frequency tone at our audiologist's office or we might enjoy falling asleep with a white-noise machine, but the sounds that really matter to us are the voices of our companions or music from our favourite radio station. The auditory system has evolved to process behaviourally relevant natural sounds. Research has shown not only that our brain is optimized for natural hearing tasks but also that using natural sounds to probe the auditory system is the best way to understand the neural computations that enable us to comprehend speech or appreciate music.

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