chapter  15
13 Pages

The mismatch negativity as an index of different forms of memory in audition

ByRISTO NÄÄTÄNEN, KAIRI KREEGIPUU

The mismatch negativity (MMN) (illustrated in Figure 15.1) is an electromagnetic response to a discriminable change (“deviant”) in any repetitive aspect (“standard”) of auditory stimulation (Näätänen, Gaillard, & Mäntysalo, 1978; for reviews, see Näätänen, 2001; Näätänen & Winkler, 1999; Näätänen, Paavilainen, Rinne, & Alho, 2007). The MMN is initiated by an auditory change-detection process in which a difference is found between the deviant auditory event and the sensory-memory representation of the repetitive aspects of the preceding auditory stimulation. The MMN therefore provides an objective index of sound-discrimination accuracy (Lang et al., 1990; for a review, see Näätänen & Alho, 1997), and it is the only such index. This change-detection process occurs pre-perceptually in the auditory cortices, generating the auditory-cortex subcomponent of the MMN and triggering frontal-cortex processes that, in turn, generate the frontal subcomponent of the MMN and initiate an involuntary attention switch to auditory change (Giard, Perrin, Pernier, & Bouchet, 1990; Näätänen, 1990; Rinne, Alho, Ilmoniemi, Virtanen, & Näätänen, 2000). Consequently, the MMN generation does not result from the afferent processes elicited by the deviant stimuli or events – that is, separate, memory-related neuronal activity is involved rather than just the activation of new (or fresh) afferent elements, those activated by the deviants but not by the standards (for a review, see Näätänen, Jacobsen, & Winkler, 2005).