Altering the primacy bias-How does a prior task affect mismatch negativity?

Daniel Mullens, Jessica Woodley, Lisa Whitson, Alexander Provost, Andrew Heathcote, István Winkler, Juanita Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


The role in which two tones are first encountered in an unattended oddball sequence affects how deviance detection, reflected by mismatch negativity, treats them later when the roles reverse: a "primacy bias." We tested whether this effect is modulated by previous behavioral relevance assigned to the two tones. To this end, sequences in which the roles of the two tones alternated were preceded by a go/no-go task in which tones were presented with equal probability. Half of the participants were asked to respond to the short sounds, the other half to long sounds. Primacy bias was initially abolished but returned dependent upon the go-stimulus that the participant was assigned. Results demonstrate a long-term impact of prior learning on deviance detection, and that even when prior importance/equivalence is learned, the bias ultimately returns. Results are discussed in terms of persistent go-stimulus specific changes in responsiveness to sound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-445
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Mismatch negativity
  • Salience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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  • Cite this

    Mullens, D., Woodley, J., Whitson, L., Provost, A., Heathcote, A., Winkler, I., & Todd, J. (2014). Altering the primacy bias-How does a prior task affect mismatch negativity? Psychophysiology, 51(5), 437-445.