The present study compared the degree of similarity of timbre representations as observed with brain recordings, behavioral studies, and computer simulations. To this end, the electrical brain activity of subjects was recorded while they were repetitively presented with five sounds differing in timbre. Subjects read simultaneously so that their attention was not focused on the sounds. The brain activity was quantified in terms of a change-specific mismatch negativity component. Thereafter, the subjects were asked to judge the similarity of all pairs along a five-step scale. A computer simulation was made by first training a Kohonen self-organizing map with a large set of instrumental sounds. The map was then tested with the experimental stimuli, and the distance between the most active artificial neurons was measured. The results of these methods were highly similar, suggesting that timbre representations reflected in behavioral measures correspond to neural activity, both as measured directly and as simulated in self-organizing neural network models.

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