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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2001 Aug;12(1):131-44.

Simultaneously active pre-attentive representations of local and global rules for sound sequences in the human brain.

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Institute of Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H-1394 Budapest, P.O. Box 389 Szondi u. 83/85, Budapest, Hungary.


Regular sequences of sounds (i.e., non-random) can usually be described by several, equally valid rules. Rules allowing extrapolation from one sound to the next are termed local rules, those that define relations between temporally non-adjacent sounds are termed global rules. The aim of the present study was to determine whether both local and global rules can be simultaneously extracted from a sound sequence even when attention is directed away from the auditory stimuli. The pre-attentive representation of a sequence of two alternating tones (differing only in frequency) was investigated using the mismatch negativity (MMN) auditory event-related potential. Both local- and global-rule violations of tone alternation elicited the MMN component while subjects ignored the auditory stimuli. This finding suggests that (a) pre-attentive auditory processes can extract both local and global rules from sound sequences, and (b) that several regularity representations of a sound sequence are simultaneously maintained during the pre-attentive phase of auditory stimulus processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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