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Neuroimage. 2009 Jan 15;44(2):546-62. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.09.010. Epub 2008 Sep 25.

Comparator and non-comparator mechanisms of change detection in the context of speech--an ERP study.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, The Anlyan Center, New Haven, CT 06520-8043, USA.


Automatic change detection reflects a cognitive memory-based comparison mechanism as well as a sensorial non-comparator mechanism based on differential states of refractoriness. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the comparator mechanism of the mismatch negativity component (MMN) is differentially affected by the lexical status of the deviant. Event-related potential (ERP) data was collected during an "oddball" paradigm designed to elicit the MMN from 15 healthy subjects that were involved in a counting task. Topography pattern analysis and source estimation were utilized to examine the deviance (deviants vs. standards), cognitive (deviants vs. control counterparts) and refractoriness (standards vs. control counterparts) effects elicited by standard-deviant pairs ("deh-day"; "day-deh"; "teh-tay") embedded within "oddball" blocks. Our results showed that when the change was salient regardless of lexical status (i.e., the /e:/ to /eI/ transition) the response tapped the comparator based-mechanism of the MMN which was located in the cuneus/posterior cingulate, reflected sensitivity to the novelty of the auditory object, appeared in the P2 latency range and mainly involved topography modulations. In contrast, when the novelty was low (i.e., the /eI/ to /e:/ transition) an acoustic change complex was elicited which involved strength modulations over the P1/N1 range and implicated the middle temporal gyrus. This result pattern also resembled the one displayed by the non-comparator mechanism. These findings suggest spatially and temporally distinct brain activities of comparator mechanisms of change detection in the context of speech.

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