Memory Prerequisites of Mismatch Negativity in the Auditory Event-Related Potential (ERP)

Nelson Cowan, I. Winkler, Wolfgang Teder, Risto Näätänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

250 Citations (Scopus)


The mismatch negativity (MMN) is a component of the auditory event-related brain potential that occurs in response to infrequent changes in the physical properties of homogeneous series of sounds, even when subjects are instructed to ignore the auditory channel of stimulation. It has been proposed (e.g., Näätänen, 1990) that the MMN is generated by an automatic process in which a difference between the deviant sound and the previous, standard sound is detected by the brain. However, it is unclear how the form of memory involved is related to the rest of the memory system. The present study indicates that, for an MMN to be elicited in response to a change in tone frequency, the representation of the standard tone must be both (a) well-established as a standard in memory, and (b) in a currently active state. The relation between physiological and psychological aspects of memory representation is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-921
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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