Involuntary attention and distractibility as evaluated with event-related brain potentials

Carles Escera, Kimmo Alho, Erich Schröger, István Winkler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

463 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews recent event-related brain potential (ERP) studies of involuntary attention and distractibility in response to novelty and change in the acoustic environment. These studies show that the mismatch negativity, N1 and P(3a) ERP components elicited by deviant or novel sounds in an unattended sequence of repetitive stimuli index different processes along the course to involuntary attention switch to distracting stimuli. These studies used new auditory-auditory and auditory-visual distraction paradigms, which enable one to assess objectively abnormal distractibility in several clinical patient groups, such as those suffering from closed-head injuries or chronic alcoholism. Copyright (C) 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalAudiology and Neuro-Otology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Audition
  • Change detector
  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Mismatch negativity (MMN)
  • N
  • Novelty
  • Orienting response
  • P(3a)
  • Passive attention
  • Sensory memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Speech and Hearing

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