• Event-related potentials;
  • Tone pattern;
  • Mismatch negativity;
  • Auditory;
  • Perception;
  • Attention


The role of selective attention on auditory pattern processing was investigated using the mismatch negativity, an event-related brain potential component associated with sensory memory. Participants responded to changes in an alternating tone pattern in a designated ear while a similar auditory pattern was presented in the opposite ear. Participants were also presented with the same sequences while reading a book (no response required). In all conditions, changes in the pattern elicited a mismatch negativity (MMN) that peaked at 160–220 ms poststimulus. MMN amplitude varied with attention: the amplitude was higher in response to deviant stimuli presented in the attended ear than to the deviant stimuli presented in the unattended ear or during reading. The results show that selective attention modulates auditory pattern memory.