Human auditory cortex tracks task-irrelevant sound sources.

István Winkler, Wolfgang A. Teder-Sälejärvi, János Horváth, Risto Näätänen, Elyse Sussman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


The brain organizes sound into coherent sequences, termed auditory streams. We asked whether task-irrelevant sounds would be detected as separate auditory streams in a natural listening environment that included three simultaneously active sound sources. Participants watched a movie with sound while street-noise and sequences of naturally varying footstep sounds were presented in the background. Occasional deviations in the footstep sequences elicited the mismatch negativity (MMN) event-related potential. The elicitation of MMN showed that the regular features of the footstep sequences had been registered and their violations detected, which could only occur if the footstep sequence had been detected as a separate auditory stream. Our results demonstrate that sounds are organized into auditory streams irrespective of their relevance to ongoing behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2053-2056
Number of pages4
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Nov 14 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Winkler, I., Teder-Sälejärvi, W. A., Horváth, J., Näätänen, R., & Sussman, E. (2003). Human auditory cortex tracks task-irrelevant sound sources. NeuroReport, 14(16), 2053-2056.