Neural responses to sudden changes can be observed in many parts of the sensory pathways at different organizational levels. For example, deviants that violate regularity at various levels of abstraction can be observed as simple On/Off responses of individual neurons or as cumulative responses of neural populations. The cortical deviance-related responses supporting different functionalities (e.g., gap detection, chunking, etc.) seem unlikely to arise from different function-specific neural circuits, given the relatively uniform and self-similar wiring patterns across cortical areas and spatial scales. Additionally, reciprocal wiring patterns (with heterogeneous combinations of excitatory and inhibitory connections) in the cortex naturally speak in favor of a generic deviance detection principle. Based on this concept, we propose a network model consisting of reciprocally coupled neural masses as a blueprint of a universal change detector. Simulation examples reproduce properties of cortical deviance-related responses including the On/Off responses, the omitted-stimulus response (OSR), and the mismatch negativity (MMN). We propose that the emergence of change detectors relies on the involvement of disinhibition. An analysis of network connection settings further suggests a supportive effect of synaptic adaptation and a destructive effect of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDA-r) antagonists on change detection. We conclude that the nature of cortical reciprocal wiring gives rise to a whole range of local change detectors supporting the notion of a generic deviance detection principle. Several testable predictions are provided based on the network model. Notably, we predict that the NMDA-r antagonists would generally dampen the cortical Off response, the cortical OSR, and the MMN.
Keywords: Adaptation; Auditory perception; Deviance detection; NMDA; Neural mass model.