Attention modulates auditory pattern memory as indexed by event-related brain potentials

Claude Alain, David L Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The role of selective attention on auditory pattern processing was investigated using the mismatch negativity, an event-related brain potential component associated with sensory memory. Participants responded to changes in an alternating tone pattern in a designated ear while a similar auditory pattern was presented in the opposite ear. Participants were also presented with the same sequences while reading a book (no response required). In all conditions, changes in the pattern elicited a mismatch negativity (MMN) that peaked at 160-220 ms poststimulus. MMN amplitude varied with attention: the amplitude was higher in response to deviant stimuli presented in the attended ear than to the deviant stimuli presented in the unattended ear or during reading. The results show that selective attention modulates auditory pattern memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-546
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1997


  • Attention
  • Auditory
  • Event-related potentials
  • Mismatch negativity
  • Perception
  • Tone pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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