Mismatch negativity in children and adults, and effects of an attended task

Hilary Gomes, Sophie Molholm, Walter Ritter, Diane Kurtzberg, Nelson Cowan, Herbert G. Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Attention has been shown to modulate the amplitude of the mismatch negativity (MMN) elicited by a small deviation in auditory stimuli in adults. The present study examined the effects of attention and deviant size on MMN amplitude in children. Children and adults were presented with sequences of tones containing standards (1000 Hz) and three deviants varying in degree of deviance from the standard (1050, 1200, and 1500 Hz). Tones were presented in three conditions: (1) while participants ignored them; (2) while participants listened to them and responded to all three deviants; and (3) while participants again ignored them. We found that the MMNs elicited by the hard deviant (1050 Hz) were larger when the children were actively discriminating the stimuli than when they were ignoring them. However, the MMNs elicited by the easy and medium deviants (1500 and 1200 Hz, respectively) in the children and by all three deviants in the adults were not affected by attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-816
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Attention
  • Auditory event-related potentials
  • Children
  • Development
  • Mismatch negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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