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Keywords:

  • Mismatch negativity (MMN);
  • Stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA);
  • Evoked potentials;
  • Single unit recordings;
  • Middle-latency responses (MLR);
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR);
  • Change detection

Abstract

In this account, we attempt to integrate two parallel, but thus far, separate lines of research on auditory novelty detection: (1) human studies of EEG recordings of the mismatch negativity (MMN), and (2) animal studies of single-neuron recordings of stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA). The studies demonstrating the existence of novelty neurons showing SSA at different levels along the auditory pathway's hierarchy, together with the recent results showing human auditory-evoked potential correlates of deviance detection at very short latencies, that is, at 20–40 ms from change onset, support the view that novelty detection is a key principle that governs the functional organization of the auditory system. Furthermore, the generation of the MMN recorded from the human scalp seems to involve a cascade of neuronal processing that occurs at different successive levels of the auditory system's hierarchy.