Preattentive processing of spectral, temporal, and structural characteristics of acoustic regularities: A mismatch negativity study

Authors

  • Rika Takegata,

    Corresponding author
    1. Faculty of Education, Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan
    2. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland
      Address reprint requests to: Rika Takegata, Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 13, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: rika@avocado.pc.helsinki.fi.
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  • Petri Paavilainen,

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

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland
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  • István Winkler

    1. Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland
    2. Institute for Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
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Address reprint requests to: Rika Takegata, Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 13, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland. E-mail: rika@avocado.pc.helsinki.fi.

Abstract

In the present study we investigated the relationship between detecting violations of structural regularities of tone sequences and detecting deviations from temporal regularities or repetitive spectral auditory stimulus features. Twelve subjects were presented with randomized sequences of two tones (differing both in frequency and intensity) delivered alternately to the left and right ears at a constant stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA). In separate blocks, occasional deviant stimuli broke one, two, or three of the following regularities: spatial alternation, the constancy of SOA, or the dominant frequency-intensity conjunctions. Unlike the mismatch negativity (MMN) elicited by alternation-plus-SOA deviants, the MMN elicited by alternation-plus-conjunction deviants was approximately equal to the sum of the two corresponding single-deviant MMNs. These results suggest that the preattentive change-detection system processes infrequent violations of the structural regularities of sound sequences together with changes in temporal regularities, but separately from changes in repetitive spectral sound features. The MMN elicited by the triple-deviant stimuli corroborated these conclusions.

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