Link to bioRxiv paper:
Authors: Saddler, M. R., Gonzalez, R., McDermott, J. H.
Computations on receptor responses enable behavior in the environment. Behavior is plausibly shaped by both the sensory receptors and the environments for which organisms are optimized, but their roles are often opaque. One classic example is pitch perception, whose properties are commonly linked to peripheral neural coding limits rather than environmental acoustic constraints. We trained artificial neural networks to estimate fundamental frequency from simulated cochlear representations of natural sounds. The best-performing networks replicated many characteristics of human pitch judgments. To probe how our ears and environment shape these characteristics, we optimized networks given altered cochleae or sound statistics. Human-like behavior emerged only when cochleae had high temporal fidelity and when models were optimized for natural sounds. The results suggest pitch perception is critically shaped by the constraints of natural environments in addition to those of the cochlea, illustrating the use of contemporary neural networks to reveal underpinnings of behavior.
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