Sensory experience and auditory cortex plasticity are intimately related. This relationship is most striking during infancy when changes in sensory input can have profound effects on the functional organization of the developing cortex. But a considerable degree of plasticity is retained throughout life, as demonstrated by the cortical reorganization that follows damage to the sensory periphery or by the more controversial changes in response properties that are thought to accompany perceptual learning. Recent studies in the auditory system have revealed the remarkably adaptive nature of sensory processing and provided important insights into the way in which cortical circuits are shaped by experience and learning.
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