Unraveling the Biology of Auditory Learning: A Cognitive-Sensorimotor-Reward Framework

Nina Kraus*, Travis White-Schwoch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The auditory system is stunning in its capacity for change: a single neuron can modulate its tuning in minutes. Here we articulate a conceptual framework to understand the biology of auditory learning where an animal must engage cognitive, sensorimotor, and reward systems to spark neural remodeling. Central to our framework is a consideration of the auditory system as an integrated whole that interacts with other circuits to guide and refine life in sound. Despite our emphasis on the auditory system, these principles may apply across the nervous system. Understanding neuroplastic changes in both normal and impaired sensory systems guides strategies to improve everyday communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-654
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Auditory learning
  • Language development
  • Language impairment
  • Neuroplasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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