Röttger, S., Schröger, E., Grube, M., Grimm, S., & Rübsamen, R. (2007). Mismatch negativity on the cone of confusion. Neuroscience Letters, 414(2), 178-182.

Mismatch negativity on the cone of confusion

Localization of sounds by the auditory system is based on the analysis of three sources of information: interaural level differences (ILD, caused by an attenuation of the sound as it travels to the more distant ear), interaural time differences (ITD, caused by the additional amount of time it takes for the sound to arrive at the more distant ear), and spectral cues (caused by direction-specific spectral filter properties of the pinnae). Although in a number of psychophysiological studies cortical processes of ITD and ILD analysis were investigated, there is hitherto no evidence on the cortical processing of spectral cues for sound localization. The objective of the present experiment was to test whether it is possible to observe electrophysiological correlates of sound localization based on spectral cues. In an auditory oddball experiment, 80 ms of broadband noise from varying free field locations were presented to inattentive participants. Mismatch negativities (MMNs) were observed for pairs of standards and location deviants located symmetrically with respect to the interaural axis. As interaural time and level differences are identical for such pairs of sounds, the observed MMNs most likely reflect cognitive processes of sound localization utilizing the spectral filter properties of the pinnae. MMN latencies suggest that sound localization based on spectral cues is slower than ITD- or ILD-based localization.


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