Temporal integration: Intentional sound discrimination does not modulate stimulus-driven processes in auditory event synthesis

Elyse Sussman, István Winkler, Judith Kreuzer, Marieke Saher, Risto Näätänen, Walter Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: Our previous study showed that the auditory context could influence whether two successive acoustic changes occurring within the temporal integration window (approximately 200ms) were pre-attentively encoded as a single auditory event or as two discrete events (Cogn Brain Res 12 (2001) 431). The aim of the current study was to assess whether top-down processes could influence the stimulus-driven processes in determining what constitutes an auditory event. Methods: Electroencepholagram (EEG) was recorded from 11 scalp electrodes to frequently occurring standard and infrequently occurring deviant sounds. Within the stimulus blocks, deviants either occurred only in pairs (successive feature changes) or both singly and in pairs. Event-related potential indices of change and target detection, the mismatch negativity (MMN) and the N2b component, respectively, were compared with the simultaneously measured performance in discriminating the deviants. Results: Even though subjects could voluntarily distinguish the two successive auditory feature changes from each other, which was also indicated by the elicitation of the N2b target-detection response, top-down processes did not modify the event organization reflected by the MMN response. Conclusions: Top-down processes can extract elemental auditory information from a single integrated acoustic event, but the extraction occurs at a later processing stage than the one whose outcome is indexed by MMN. Significance: Initial processes of auditory event-formation are fully governed by the context within which the sounds occur. Perception of the deviants as two separate sound events (the top-down effects) did not change the initial neural representation of the same deviants as one event (indexed by the MMN), without a corresponding change in the stimulus-driven sound organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1909-1920
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Auditory event formation
  • Auditory perception
  • Event-related potentials
  • Mismatch negativity
  • Stimulus-driven
  • Temporal integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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