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Neuroimage. 2001 Jun;13(6 Pt 1):1073-89.

Responses of human auditory association cortex to the omission of an expected acoustic event.

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Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College and Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755, USA.


Unexpected auditory events initiate a complex set of event-related potentials (ERPs) that vary in their latency and anatomical localization. Such "mismatch" responses include active responses to the omission of an expected event or the omission of elements in expected stimulus composites. Here we describe intracranial recordings of middle-latency ERPs elicited by the omission of an auditory event. We first presented a sequence of tones at regular temporal intervals and the tone was omitted 20% of the time. In a second condition, we presented a sequence of tone pairs and the second tone of the pair was omitted 20% of the time. These two conditions are complementary in that the single tone conformed to the expectancy in one condition, but violated the expectancy in the other. All patients demonstrated localized cortical responses to missing tones that were topographically similar to the responses evoked by actual tones. Responses to both actual and omitted tones were observed bilaterally in the vicinity of the temporal--parietal junction, where we also obtained midlatency ERPs to a variety of other auditory stimuli. Responses that appeared to be selective for the nonoccurrence of expected tones were also observed in a number of subjects. We interpret these effects in terms of processes associated with the comparison of sensory inputs to the contents of a short-term auditory memory. Such a system could automatically detect deviant auditory events, and provide input to higher-level, task-dependent cognitive processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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