Opitz, B., Schröger, E., & von Cramon, D. Y. (2005). Sensory and cognitive mechanisms for preattentive change detection in auditory cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience, 21(2), 531-535.

Sensory and cognitive mechanisms for preattentive change detection in auditory cortex

In order to react adequately to potentially relevant information outside the focus of attention, our brain preattentively scans the acoustic environment for irregularities. Two different mechanisms are currently discussed: (i) a sensory one based on differential states of refractoriness of neurons sensitive to the features of a regular event and of neurons sensitive to features of an irregular event; (ii) a cognitive one based on a comparison of short-lived memory representations encoding current stimulation and the invariance inherent in recent recurrent stimulation. Here, we identified regions that mediate either of the two mechanisms by combining functional magnetic resonance imaging with an experimental protocol controlling for refractoriness. The sensory mechanism was associated with activity in the primary auditory cortex, whereas the cognitive one revealed activity in nonprimary auditory areas in the anterior part of Heschl's Gyrus. Moreover, it turned out that in the traditional oddball paradigm both mechanisms contribute to irregularity detection.


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