Sensory suppression effects to self-initiated sounds reflect the attenuation of the unspecific N1 component of the auditory ERP


  • This research was funded by a Reinhart-Koselleck project awarded to Erich Schröger. We thank István Winkler and Gergely Csibra for inspiring discussions that led to the execution of this study and Susann Duwe for data collection. This experiment was realized using Cogent Graphics developed by John Romaya at the Laboratory of Neurobiology at the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience.

Address correspondence to: Iria SanMiguel, Institut für Psychologie, Universität Leipzig, Seeburgstr. 14-20, 04103 Leipzig, Germany. E-mail:


The suppression of the auditory N1 event-related potential (ERP) to self-initiated sounds became a popular tool to tap into sensory-specific forward modeling. It is assumed that processing in the auditory cortex is attenuated due to a match between sensory stimulation and a specific sensory prediction afforded by a forward model of the motor command. The present study shows that N1 suppression was dramatically increased with long (∼3 s) stimulus onset asynchronies (SOA), whereas P2 suppression was equal in all SOA conditions (0.8, 1.6, 3.2 s). Thus, the P2 was found to be more sensitive to self-initiation effects than the N1 with short SOAs. Moreover, only the unspecific but not the sensory-specific N1 components were suppressed for self-initiated sounds suggesting that N1-suppression effects mainly reflect an attenuated orienting response. We argue that the N1-suppression effect is a rather indirect measure of sensory-specific forward models.