Top-down effects can modify the initially stimulus-driven auditory organization

Elyse Sussman, István Winkler, Minna Huotilainen, Walter Ritter, Risto Näätänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) and magnetic fields (ERFs) of the human brain to determine whether top-down control could modulate the initial organization of sound representations in the auditory cortex. We presented identical sound stimulation and manipulated top-down processes by instructing participants to either ignore the sounds (Ignore condition), to detect pitch changes (Attend-pitch condition), or to detect violations of a repeating tone pattern (Attend-pattern condition). The ERP results obtained in the Attend-pattern condition dramatically differed from those obtained with the other two task instructions. The magnetoencephalogram (MEG) findings were fully compatible, showing that the neural populations involved in detecting pattern violations differed from those involved in detecting pitch changes. The results demonstrate a top-down effect on the sound representation maintained in auditory cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-405
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Auditory attention
  • Auditory organization
  • Event-related potential
  • Mismatch negativity
  • N2b

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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