Separate memory-related processing for auditory frequency and patterns

Claude Alain, Andre Achim, David L Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Detecting deviant, and potentially meaningful, auditory events depends on transient representations of preceding stimuli. Here, we examined whether the neural circuitry underlying deviance detection system varied as a function of deviance type. In different blocks of trials, participants were presented with a sequence that included standard and deviant tones differing in frequency or a sequence of tones that alternated regularly in frequency with occasional deviant repetitions. Both frequency- and pattern-deviant stimuli elicited a mismatch negativity (MMN) peaking between 120 and 175 ms poststimulus. The MMN amplitude distribution was more frontal for frequency- deviant than for pattern-deviant stimuli. There are two possible explanations for these results. Both frequency- and pattern-deviation MMNs might arise in the same set of generators whose relative strength of activation varies. Alternatively, frequency- and pattern-deviation MMNs could originate in different generators. These alternatives were investigated using principal component analysis and signal identification methods. These methods revealed that no common signal space could account for both of the MMNs, indicating different generator sources for the analysis of frequency and pattern deviance. The results suggest separate memory-related processing for auditory frequency and patterns and indicate that the neural circuit of deviance detection varies as a function of the perceptual context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-744
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1999


  • Deviance detection
  • Frequency deviance
  • Mismatch negativity
  • Pattern deviance
  • Sensory memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Separate memory-related processing for auditory frequency and patterns'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this