Memory-based or afferent processes in mismatch negativity (MMN): a review of the evidence

Psychophysiology. 2005 Jan;42(1):25-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2005.00256.x.


The mismatch negativity (MMN) is an electromagnetic response to any discriminable change in regular auditory input. This response is usually interpreted as being generated by an automatic cortical change-detection process in which a difference is found between the current input and the representation of the regular aspects of the preceding auditory input. Recently, this interpretation was questioned by Jääskeläinen et al. (2004) who proposed that the MMN is a product of an N1 (N1a) difference wave emerging in the subtraction procedure used to visualize and quantify the MMN. We now evaluate this "adaptation hypothesis" of the MMN in the light of the available data. It is shown that the MMN cannot be accounted for by differential activation of the afferent N1 transient detectors by repetitive ("standard") stimuli and deviant ("novel") stimuli and that the presence of a memory representation of the standard is required for the elicitation of MMN.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*