Abstract

Male, A., O'Shea, R. P., Schröger, E., Müller, D., Roeber, U., & Widmann, A. (in press). The quest for the genuine visual mismatch negativity (vMMN): Event-related potential indications of deviance detection for low-level visual features. Psychophysiology.

The quest for the genuine visual mismatch negativity (vMMN): Event-related potential indications of deviance detection for low-level visual features

Research shows that the visual system monitors the environment for changes. For example, a left-tilted bar, a deviant, that appears after several presentations of a right-tilted bar, standards, elicits a classic visual mismatch negativity (vMMN): greater negativity for deviants than standards in event-related potentials (ERPs) between 100 and 300 ms after onset of the deviant. The classic vMMN is contributed to by adaptation; it can be distinguished from the genuine vMMN that, through use of control conditions, compares standards and deviants that are equally adapted and physically identical. To determine whether the vMMN follows similar principles to the auditory mismatch negativity (MMN), in two experiments, we searched for a genuine vMMN from simple, physiologically plausible stimuli that change in fundamental dimensions: orientation, contrast, phase, and spatial frequency. We carefully controlled for attention and eye-movements. We found no evidence for the genuine vMMN, despite adequate statistical power. We conclude that either the genuine vMMN is a rather unstable phenomenon that depends on still-to-be-identified experimental parameters, or it is confined to visual stimuli for which monitoring across time is more natural than monitoring over space, such as for high-level features. We also observed an early deviant-related positivity that we propose might reflect earlier predictive processing.



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