Temporal window of integration of auditory information in the human brain

Authors

  • Hirooki Yabe,

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. Department of Neuropsychiatry, Hirosaki University School of Medicine, Hirosaki, Japan
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  • Mari Tervaniemi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Janne Sinkkonen,

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    2. BioMag Laboratory, Medical Engineering Centre, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Minna Huotilainen,

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Risto J. Ilmoniemi,

    1. BioMag Laboratory, Medical Engineering Centre, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Risto Näätänen

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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Address requests for reprints to: M. Tervaniemi, Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 13, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Abstract

A deviation in the acoustic environment activates an automatic change-detection system based on a memory mechanism that builds a neural trace representing the preceding sounds. The present study revealed that the auditory-cortex mechanisms underlying this sensory memory integrate acoustic events over time, producing a perception of a unitary auditory event. We recorded magnetic responses (MMNm) to occasional stimulus omissions in trains of stimuli presented at a constant stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) that was, in different blocks, either shorter or longer in duration than the assumed length of the temporal window of integration. A definite MMNm was elicited by stimulus omission only with the three shortest SOAs used: 100, 125, and 150 ms, but not with 175 ms. Thus, 160–170 ms was estimated as the length of the temporal window used by the central auditory system in integrating successive auditory input into auditory event percepts.

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