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December 2021

Cortical processing of complex tone stimuli: mismatch negativity at the end of a period of rapid pitch modulation

Author(s): Jones, S. J.

Journal/Book: Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1999; 7: 295-306.

Abstract: In this study, synthesised instrumental tones were used to examine human auditory cortical processes engaged at the end of a period of rapid pitch modulation. It was previously [S.J. Jones, O. Longe, M. Vaz Pato, Auditory evoked potentials to abrupt pitch and timbre change of complex tones: electrophysiological evidence of 'streaming'?, Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol., 108 (1998) 131-142] suggested that the 'change-N1' produced by infrequent changes in pitch or timbre of a continuous complex tone represents the activity of a neuronal population topographically distinct from that responsible for the 'onset-N1' at the beginning of the tone. In the present study a superficially similar negativity was produced when the tone came to rest on a steady pitch after a period of rapid (8-16 changes/s) modulation; its scalp maximum was anterior to that of the two previously identified potentials but similar to that of the mismatch negativity elicited by discontinuous tones. By varying the modulation rate the latency was shown to be relatively constant with respect to the time the next pitch change was expected but failed to occur. The largest responses averaging c. 7 microV were evoked at the end of modulation sequences which were both rhythmic and repetitive, but a potential was still produced when there was no rhythmic pattern or repetition of individual notes. This response to non-occurrence of an expected but not necessarily specified change implies an automatic process for comparing the incoming sound with an extrapolated template of the preceding pattern in which timing as well as pitch information is accurately represented. We suggest this technique offers a robust method for eliciting the mismatch negativity, which may extend the opportunities for electrophysiological investigation of higher auditory processes.

Keyword(s): Acoustic Stimulation. Adult. Attention/physiology. Auditory Cortex/physiology. Contingent Negative Variation/physiology. Evoked Potentials, Auditory/physiology. Female. Human. Male. Memory/physiology. Middle Age. Music. Periodicity. Pitch Perception/physiology

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