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Keywords:

  • Intensity mismatch negativity;
  • Children;
  • Auditory event-related potentials;
  • Feature

Abstract

We examined preattentive auditory change detection in 7- to 9-year-old children. The question of interest was whether the preattentive comparison of stimuli indexed by the scalp-recorded mismatch negativity (MMN) was performed on representations of individual stimulus features or on gestalt representations of their combined attributes. The design of the study, based on a work by D. Deacon, J. Nousak, M. Pilotti, W. Ritter, and C. Yang (Psychophysiology, 1998), was such that both feature and gestalt representations could have been available to the comparator mechanism generating the MMN. The data indicated that for the majority of the children—those that exhibited an inverse relationship between the amplitude of the MMN and the probability of the deviant—the MMN was based on feature-specific information. This study also provides a method to obtain MMNs to deviants in three different features in the time usually required to obtain an MMN to a single acoustic feature.