Impaired pre-attentive auditory processing in fibromyalgia: A mismatch negativity (MMN) study

Clin Neurophysiol. 2015 Jul;126(7):1310-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2014.10.012. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Objective: Fibromyalgia (FM) patients often show deficits in cognitive functions such as attention and working memory. We assumed that pre-attentive information processing, a crucial element in human perception and cognition, would be altered in FM patients. Thus, the objective of this study was to determine whether FM patients exhibit alterations in pre-attentive processing as assessed by auditory mismatch negativity (MMN).

Methods: Auditory evoked magnetic fields were recorded in FM patients (n=18) and healthy control subjects (n=21) during a duration-deviant auditory oddball paradigm. The magnetic mismatch negativity (MMNm) was obtained by subtracting responses to standard tones from responses to deviant tones. Pressure pain thresholds over the thenar and trapezius muscles were determined using an algometer.

Results: MMNm peak amplitudes in right hemispheres were attenuated, and the directional asymmetry coefficient of the MMNm amplitude was lower in FM patients, indicating a more leftward asymmetry than in healthy control subjects. Smaller right MMNm amplitude was associated with lower pressure pain thresholds of thenar muscles in FM patients.

Conclusions: Our results suggested that pre-attentive processing of auditory information is impaired in FM patients.

Significance: This study provided neurophysiological evidence of impaired pre-attentive sensory change detection in FM.

Keywords: Auditory evoked fields; Chronic pain; Fibromyalgia; Magnetoencephalography; Mismatch negativity (MMN).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrum / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Threshold / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology*