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Keywords:

  • Sensory memory;
  • Event-related potentials (ERP);
  • Stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA);
  • Mismatch negativity (MMN);
  • Expectancy

Abstract

Single neurons in the primary auditory cortex of the cat show faster adaptation time constants to short- than long-term stimulus history. This ability to encode the complex past auditory stimulation in multiple time scales would enable the auditory system to generate expectations of the incoming stimuli. Here, we tested whether large neural populations exhibit this ability as well, by recording human auditory evoked potentials (AEP) to pure tones in a sequence embedding short- and long-term aspects of stimulus history. Our results yielded dynamic amplitude modulations of the P2 AEP to stimulus repetition spanning from milliseconds to tens of seconds concurrently, as well as amplitude modulations of the mismatch negativity AEP to regularity violations. A simple linear model of expectancy accounting for both short- and long-term stimulus history described our results, paralleling the behavior of neurons in the primary auditory cortex.