Adaptation to altered spatial input statistics across different timescales and stages of development
* Presenting author
In natural environments, sensory systems continuously update their coding strategies to reflect changes in sensory input. This applies in particular to the neural systems involved in spatial hearing. We and many others have demonstrated that these circuits can adapt to changes in the statistics of the acoustic input over several different timescales and throughout life. I will describe a series of behavioural and physiological experiments that we carried out in humans and ferrets to demonstrate the perceptual and neural implications of adaptation to spatial input. Specifically, I will show how neural interaural level difference (ILD) sensitivity and the perception of auditory space can change rapidly and temporarily as a function of the statistics of a preceding input distribution. Furthermore, I will demonstrate how the developing brain adapts to the temporary loss of input from one ear by either down-weighting the altered binaural cues in favour of the intact spectral localisation cues or adaptively shifting its ILD sensitivity when the spectral cues are no longer available. Finally, I will show that the adult brain is also capable of exploiting both of these adaptive processes provided that appropriate behavioural training is provided.