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In this paper, we propose an auction-based cooperative sensing protocol for secondary users in cognitive networks. The proposed auction mechanism is based on a novel modified Vickrey auction with a three dimensional bid, that accounts for detection gains as well as for virtual currency gains. We present a formal proof to show that the proposed three dimensional bidding mechanism preserves the truthfulness property of the classic Vickrey auction. The cooperative auction is combined with a prioritized access scheme to increase the efficiency and to reduce the response time for the coalition formation procedure. Our auction-based cooperative sensing mechanism can be easily applied to different network scenarios, by defining specific utility functions. The proposed cooperative sensing auctioning mechanism is illustrated for both downlink and uplink. Our simulation results show that users' cooperation is incentivized by the proposed algorithm, which leads to significant detection gains for the downlink and the uplink scenarios, with a more efficient energy expenditure.