Näätänen, R., Jacobsen, T., & Winkler, I. (2005). Memory-based or afferent processes in mismatch negativity (MMN): a review of the evidence. Psychophysiology, 42(1), 25-32.

Memory-based or afferent processes in mismatch negativity (MMN): a review of the evidence

The mismatch negativity (MMN) is an electromagnetic response to any discriminable change in regular auditory input. This response is usually interpreted as being generated by an automatic cortical change-detection process in which a difference is found between the current input and the representation of the regular aspects of the preceding auditory input. Recently, this interpretation was questioned by Jaaskelainen et al. (2004) who proposed that the MMN is a product of an N1 (N1a) difference wave emerging in the subtraction procedure used to visualize and quantify the MMN. We now evaluate this "adaptation hypothesis" of the MMN in the light of the available data. It is shown that the MMN cannot be accounted for by differential activation of the afferent N1 transient detectors by repetitive ("standard") stimuli and deviant ("novel") stimuli and that the presence of a memory representation of the standard is required for the elicitation of MMN.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Life Sciences
Institute of Psychology
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Dagmar Schrödl
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Email: dagmar dot schroedl at uni-leipzig dot de

Dorit Thieme
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