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Separating mismatch negativity (MMN) response from auditory obligatory brain responses in school-aged children


  • This research was funded by the European Union Sixth Framework Programme #018696 “NeuroDys Dyslexia Genes and Neurobiological Pathways” and personal grants from the Research Foundation of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare and Graduate School of Psychology to KL. We thank Prof. Jyrki Tuomainen for creating the stimuli and NeuroDys Work Package 2 team, directed by Prof. Heikki Lyytinen, for the recruitment and behavioral testing of the children. We are especially grateful to all of the children and their parents for their participation in this study.

Address correspondence to: Kaisa Lohvansuu, M.Sc., Department of Psychology/Agora, P.O. Box 35, FIN-40014 University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland. E-mail:


Mismatch negativity (MMN) overlaps with other auditory event-related potential (ERP) components. We examined the ERPs of 50 9- to 11-year-old children for vowels /i/, /y/ and equivalent complex tones. The goal was to separate MMN from obligatory ERP components using principal component analysis and equal probability control condition. In addition to the contrast of the deviant minus standard response, we employed the contrast of the deviant minus control response, to see whether the obligatory processing contributes to MMN in children. When looking for differences in speech deviant minus standard contrast, MMN starts around 112 ms. However, when both contrasts are examined, MMN emerges for speech at 160 ms whereas for nonspeech MMN is observed at 112 ms regardless of contrast. We argue that this discriminative response to speech stimuli at 112 ms is obligatory in nature rather than reflecting change detection processing.