Grimm, S., & Schröger, E. (2005). Pre-attentive and attentive processing of temporal and frequency characteristics within long sounds. Brain Research. Cognitive Brain Research, 25(3), 711-721.

Pre-attentive and attentive processing of temporal and frequency characteristics within long sounds

Attention effects on the processing of deviations in the duration and the frequency dimension of a long sound were investigated in three conditions: (1) when auditory stimuli were ignored, (2) when they were attended and frequency dimension was task-relevant, and (3) when they were attended and duration dimension was task-relevant. The mismatch negativity (MMN) of the event-related potential (ERP) to infrequent shortenings of a sound (600 ms vs. 1000 ms) and to infrequent frequency modulations at one of nine possible intervals within the sound (change from 440 Hz to 480 Hz and back to 440 Hz, e.g. in the 600-650 ms interval) was measured. Duration MMN was slightly enhanced when directing attention towards the frequency dimension but notably enhanced when attention was focused on duration. The early phase of frequency-modulated MMN was of equal amplitude in all three conditions, and the late phase was equally enlarged in both attend conditions. Interestingly, MMN to frequency-modulated deviants decreased the later the deviation occurred within the sound; there was no indication for an MMN being present in Ignore condition when frequency modulations occurred 400 ms after sound onset or later. Thus, with increasing temporal distance between the onset of a sound and the onset of a deviation within the sound (e.g. frequency modulation or sound offset), MMN for frequency modulations and duration shortenings decreases. This suggests that the initial part of a sound ( approximately 300 ms) contributes more to the unitary sound representation underlying MMN than the later parts.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Life Sciences
Institute of Psychology
Neumarkt 9-19
D-04109 Leipzig


Dagmar Schrödl
Phone: +49 341 97-39570
Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
Phone: +49 341 97-39540
Email: d dot thieme at uni-leipzig dot de

Fax: +49 341 97-39271