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Journal Article

Finding the right control: The mismatch negativity under investigation


Herrmann,  Björn
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Ruhnau, P., Herrmann, B., & Schröger, E. (2012). Finding the right control: The mismatch negativity under investigation. Clinical Neurophysiology, 123(3), 507-512. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2011.07.035.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-1346-0
Objective When investigating auditory perceptual regularity processing, mismatch negativity (MMN) is commonly used. MMN is computed as a difference signal between the event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by repeated standard tones and rarely occurring deviant tones. This procedure leads to an underestimation of the N1 component elicited by standards compared to the N1 to deviants which might affect the MMN. Consequently, a random control design was previously introduced. This design, however, overestimates the N1 to the deviant. Here, we developed a new paradigm that avoids previous drawbacks. Methods We designed a regular cascadic sequence as a control to the deviant. ERPs were measured while presenting conventional oddball blocks (standards, deviants), random control blocks and a cascadic control block. Results MMN was observed in each difference signal. Regarding the N1, standards elicited smallest amplitudes. The N1 for the deviant and the cascadic control was comparable. The largest N1 was elicited by the random control. Conclusion Standards underestimate N1 refractoriness effects in the responses to deviants, while random control tones overestimate. Cascadic control tones, however, provide a reasonable estimation for the N1. Significance The new cascadic control design is suitable to investigate auditory perceptual regularity processes while controlling for N1 refractoriness effects.