Mismatch negativity (MMN), the deviance-elicited auditory deflection, explained


  • This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (projects 111848, 217082, and 217113). We thank Mr. Markku Hyypiä at the Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, for the exceptional encouragement he gave us during the preparation of the manuscript.

Address reprint requests to: Patrick J. C. May, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science, Helsinki University of Technology, P.O. Box 3310, FIN-02015 TKK, Finland. E-mail: patrick.may@tkk.fi


The current review constitutes the first comprehensive look at the possibility that the mismatch negativity (MMN, the deflection of the auditory ERP/ERF elicited by stimulus change) might be generated by so-called fresh-afferent neuronal activity. This possibility has been repeatedly ruled out for the past 30 years, with the prevailing theoretical accounts relying on a memory-based explanation instead. We propose that the MMN is, in essence, a latency- and amplitude-modulated expression of the auditory N1 response, generated by fresh-afferent activity of cortical neurons that are under nonuniform levels of adaptation.