Pre-attentive detection of vowel contrasts utilizes both phonetic and auditory memory representations

István Winkler, Anne Lehtokoski, Paavo Alku, Martti Vainio, István Czigler, Valéria Csépe, Olli Aaltonen, Ilkka Raimo, Kimmo Alho, Heikki Lang, Antti Iivonen, Risto Näätänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

160 Citations (Scopus)


Event-related brain potentials (ERP) were recorded to infrequent changes of a synthesized vowel (standard) to another vowel (deviant) in speakers of Hungarian and Finnish language, which are remotely related to each other with rather similar vowel systems. Both language groups were presented with identical stimuli. One standard-deviant pair represented an across-vowel category contrast in Hungarian, but a within-category contrast in Finnish, with the other pair having the reversed role in the two languages. Both within- and across-category contrasts elicited the mismatch negativity (MMN) ERP component in the native speakers of either language. The MMN amplitude was larger in across- than within-category contrasts in both language groups. These results suggest that the pre-attentive change-detection process generating the MMN utilized both auditory (sensory) and phonetic (categorical) representations of the test vowels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-369
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1999



  • Auditory sensory memory
  • Category boundary effect
  • Cross-language study
  • Event-related potential
  • Mismatch negativity
  • Phonetic representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Winkler, I., Lehtokoski, A., Alku, P., Vainio, M., Czigler, I., Csépe, V., Aaltonen, O., Raimo, I., Alho, K., Lang, H., Iivonen, A., & Näätänen, R. (1999). Pre-attentive detection of vowel contrasts utilizes both phonetic and auditory memory representations. Cognitive Brain Research, 7(3), 357-369.