Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The present study analyzed the neural correlates of acoustic stimulus representation in echoic sensory memory. The neural traces of auditory sensory memory were indirectly studied by using the mismatch negativity (MMN), an event-related potential component elicited by a change in a repetitive sound. The MMN is assumed to reflect change detection in a comparison process between the sensory input from a deviant stimulus and the neural representation of repetitive stimuli in echoic memory. The scalp topographies of the MMNs elicited by pure tones deviating from standard tones by either frequency, intensity, or duration varied according to the type of stimulus deviance, indicating that the MMNs for different attributes originate, at least in part, from distinct neural populations in the auditory cortex. This result was supported by dipole-model analysis. If the MMN generator process occurs where the stimulus information is stored, these findings strongly suggest that the frequency, intensity, and duration of acoustic stimuli have a separate neural representation in sensory memory.