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Keywords:

  • N1 or N100;
  • Event-related brain potentials;
  • Auditory evoked potentials;
  • Auditory cortex;
  • Refractoriness;
  • Inhibition

Abstract

Sound repetition typically reduces auditory N1 amplitudes, more so at higher rates. This has been attributed to refractoriness of N1 generators. However, evidence that N1 attenuation is delayed 300–400 ms after the first occurrence of a repeated sound suggests an alternative process, such as inhibition, that requires 300–400 ms to become fully operational. We examined the N1 to trains of fixed-interval (100, 200, 300, 400 ms) tones for evidence of effects predicted by models of refractoriness and of latent inhibition. Regardless of interval, latency of the eliciting tone from train onset determined N1 amplitudes during the first 400 ms of the train, which decreased in this window. The results show that N1 attenuation cannot be due simply to refractoriness, which would elicit the smallest N1 to the second tone. An inhibitory neural circuit can account for these and previous results, and may be important to auditory perceptual processing.