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Neural Representation of Pitch through Temporal Autocorrelation

An enormous wealth of acoustic information is present in the t;ermporal firing patterns of auditory neurons. Distributions of interspike intervals across neural populations in the auditory nerve and brainstem form autocorrelation-like stimulus representations that closely predict the low pitches of complex tones. Many diverse aspects of auditory perception are readily explained in terms of central analyses of these interval-based representations. To the extent that neural discharges are stimulus-locked in a given sensory system, distributions of all-order interspike intervals provide a neural representation of the stimulus autocorrelation function. These time-domain representations provide an alternative means for the nervous system to perform Fourier analysis.

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