29
Nov
11

PLoS Biology: An Information Theoretic Characterisation of Auditory Encoding

Via Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Understanding how the brain makes sense of our acoustic environment remains a major challenge. One way to describe the complexity of our acoustic environment is in terms of information entropy: acoustic signals with high entropy convey large amounts of information, whereas low entropy signifies redundancy. To investigate how the brain processes this information, we controlled the amount of entropy in the signal by using pitch sequences. Participants listened to pitch sequences with varying amounts of entropy while we measured their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We show that the planum temporale (PT), a region of auditory association cortex, is sensitive to the entropy in pitch sequences. In two convergent fMRI studies, activity in PT increases as the entropy in the pitch sequence increases. The results establish PT as an important “computational hub” that requires less resource to encode redundant signals than it does to encode signals with high information content.
Via www.plosbiology.org

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