Cornella, M., Leung, S., Grimm, S., & Escera, C. (2012). Detection of simple and pattern regularity violations occurs at different levels of the auditory hierarchy. PLoS One, 7(8), e43604.

Detection of simple and pattern regularity violations occurs at different levels of the auditory hierarchy

Auditory deviance detection in humans is indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN), a component of the auditory evoked potential (AEP) of the electroencephalogram (EEG) occurring at a latency of 100-250 ms after stimulus onset. However, by using classic oddball paradigms, differential responses to regularity violations of simple auditory features have been found at the level of the middle latency response (MLR) of the AEP occurring within the first 50 ms after stimulus (deviation) onset. These findings suggest the existence of fast deviance detection mechanisms for simple feature changes, but it is not clear whether deviance detection among more complex acoustic regularities could be observed at such early latencies. To test this, we examined the pre-attentive processing of rare stimulus repetitions in a sequence of tones alternating in frequency in both long and middle latency ranges. Additionally, we introduced occasional changes in the interaural time difference (ITD), so that a simple-feature regularity could be examined in the same paradigm. MMN was obtained for both repetition and ITD deviants, occurring at 150 ms and 100 ms after stimulus onset respectively. At the level of the MLR, a difference was observed between standards and ITD deviants at the Na component (20-30 ms after stimulus onset), for 800 Hz tones, but not for repetition deviants. These findings suggest that detection mechanisms for deviants to simple regularities, but not to more complex regularities, are already activated in the MLR range, supporting the view that the auditory deviance detection system is organized in a hierarchical manner.


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

Fax: +49 341 97-39271