A new view on the MMN and attention debate: The role of context in processing auditory events

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191 Scopus citations


The question of whether the mismatch negativity (MMN) is modulated by attention has been debated for over a decade. Although the MMN is widely regarded as reflecting a preattentive auditory process, many studies have shown attention effects on MMN. So, what does preattentive mean if attention can modulate the MMN? To understand the function of MMN in auditory processing, we need to shed new light on the "MMN and attention" debate. This review will discuss the apparent paradox that MMN can be modulated by attention and still be considered an attention-independent process, and provide a new framework for viewing the MMN system. The new model proposes that the principal factor governing MMN is the sound context. MMN generation relies on multiple processing mechanisms that are part of a larger system of auditory scene analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-175
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2007


  • Attention
  • Auditory
  • Context
  • ERPs
  • MMN
  • Preattentive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology

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