Visual mismatch negativity for changes in orientation – a sensory memory-dependent response


Dr P. Astikainen, as above.


It remains unclear whether the mismatch negativity of event-related potentials (ERPs) in vision resembles its auditory counterpart in terms of memory relatedness. We recorded ERPs to visual bars in adult humans engaged in an auditory task. In one condition, a bar (‘standard’) repeated at 400- or 1100-ms non-stimulated intervals was rarely (= 0.1) replaced by another bar of a different orientation (‘deviant’). In the other condition (400-ms intervals), the occurrences of the standards were replaced by 10 (= 0.1 each) bars of different orientations, including that of the deviant (‘control-deviant’). Deviants shifted ERPs towards negative polarity relative to standards in occipital electrodes and towards positive polarity in frontal electrodes at 185–205 ms post-stimulus but only when 400-ms non-stimulated intervals were applied. Furthermore, the shift existed even relative to ERPs to control-deviants. The findings suggest that, as in audition, vision supports the detection of voluntarily unattended changes per se within the constraints of sensory memory. The findings also pave the way for the future exploration of both intact and impaired memory-based visual processing and memory capacity.