Automatic auditory intelligence: an expression of the sensory-cognitive core of cognitive processes

Brain Res Rev. 2010 Sep;64(1):123-36. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2010.03.001. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


In this article, we present a new view on the nature of cognitive processes suggesting that there is a common core, viz., automatic sensory-cognitive processes that form the basis for higher-order cognitive processes. It has been shown that automatic sensory-cognitive processes are shared by humans and various other species and occur at different developmental stages and even in different states of consciousness. This evidence, based on the automatic electrophysiological change-detection response mismatch negativity (MMN), its magnetoencephalographic equivalent MMNm, and behavioral data, indicates that in audition surprisingly complex processes occur automatically and mainly in the sensory-specific cortical regions. These processes include, e.g. stimulus anticipation and extrapolation, sequential stimulus-rule extraction, and pattern and pitch-interval encoding. Furthermore, these complex perceptual-cognitive processes, first found in waking adults, occur similarly even in sleeping newborns, anesthetized animals, and deeply sedated adult humans, suggesting that they form the common perceptual-cognitive core of cognitive processes in general. Although the present evidence originates mainly from the auditory modality, it is likely that analogous evidence could be obtained from other sensory modalities when measures corresponding to those used in the study of the auditory modality become available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / drug effects
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / drug effects
  • Pattern Recognition, Physiological / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology