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Keywords:

  • Mismatch negativity (MMN);
  • Change-detection;
  • Sensory memory

The brain's responsiveness to changes in sound frequency has been demonstrated by an overwhelming number of studies. Change detection occurs unintentionally and automatically. It is generally assumed that this brain response, the so-called mismatch negativity (MMN) of the event-related brain potential or evoked magnetic field, is based on the outcome of a memory-comparison mechanism rather than being due to a differential state of refractoriness of tonotopically organized cortical neurons. To the authors' knowledge, however, there is no entirely compelling evidence for this belief. An experimental protocol controlling for refractoriness effects was developed and a true memory-comparison-based brain response to pitch change was demonstrated.