In this article, we review clinical research using the mismatch negativity (MMN), a change-detection response of the brain elicited even in the absence of attention or behavioural task. In these studies, the MMN was usually elicited by employing occasional frequency, duration or speech-sound changes in repetitive background stimulation while the patient was reading or watching videos. It was found that in a large number of different neuropsychiatric, neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as in normal ageing, the MMN amplitude was attenuated and peak latency prolonged. Besides indexing decreased discrimination accuracy, these effects may also reflect, depending on the specific stimulus paradigm used, decreased sensory-memory duration, abnormal perception or attention control or, most importantly, cognitive decline. In fact, MMN deficiency appears to index cognitive decline irrespective of the specific symptomatologies and aetiologies of the different disorders involved.
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