Predictive coding and stochastic resonance as fundamental principles of auditory phantom perception

Schilling A, Sedley W, Gerum RC, Metzner C, Tziridis K, Maier A, Schulze H, Zeng FG, Friston KJ, Krauß P (2023)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2023


Book Volume: 146

Pages Range: 4809-4825

Journal Issue: 12

DOI: 10.1093/brain/awad255


Mechanistic insight is achieved only when experiments are employed to test formal or computational models. Furthermore, in analogy to lesion studies, phantom perception may serve as a vehicle to understand the fundamental processing principles underlying healthy auditory perception. With a special focus on tinnitus-as the prime example of auditory phantom perception-we review recent work at the intersection of artificial intelligence, psychology and neuroscience. In particular, we discuss why everyone with tinnitus suffers from (at least hidden) hearing loss, but not everyone with hearing loss suffers from tinnitus. We argue that intrinsic neural noise is generated and amplified along the auditory pathway as a compensatory mechanism to restore normal hearing based on adaptive stochastic resonance. The neural noise increase can then be misinterpreted as auditory input and perceived as tinnitus. This mechanism can be formalized in the Bayesian brain framework, where the percept (posterior) assimilates a prior prediction (brain's expectations) and likelihood (bottom-up neural signal). A higher mean and lower variance (i.e. enhanced precision) of the likelihood shifts the posterior, evincing a misinterpretation of sensory evidence, which may be further confounded by plastic changes in the brain that underwrite prior predictions. Hence, two fundamental processing principles provide the most explanatory power for the emergence of auditory phantom perceptions: predictive coding as a top-down and adaptive stochastic resonance as a complementary bottom-up mechanism. We conclude that both principles also play a crucial role in healthy auditory perception. Finally, in the context of neuroscience-inspired artificial intelligence, both processing principles may serve to improve contemporary machine learning techniques.

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Schilling, A., Sedley, W., Gerum, R.C., Metzner, C., Tziridis, K., Maier, A.,... Krauß, P. (2023). Predictive coding and stochastic resonance as fundamental principles of auditory phantom perception. Brain, 146(12), 4809-4825.


Schilling, Achim, et al. "Predictive coding and stochastic resonance as fundamental principles of auditory phantom perception." Brain 146.12 (2023): 4809-4825.

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