Event-related potentials reveal a memory trace for temporal features

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Auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from reading subjects while they were presented with 50 ms tone pips intervened by regular silent intervals of 550 ms. This interval was occasionally shortened either to 250, 100, 25, 10, or 2 ms, which resulted in the elicitation of the mismatch-negativity (MMN), a change-specific ERP component not elicited by tones appearing after the regular, longer intervals. This indicates that the MMN is not just due to new afferent elements activated by deviant but not standard stimuli. In addition, the present results suggest that the temporal parameters of acoustic stimulation are also encoded in memory traces which therefore are representations of auditory events rather than only of static stimulus aspects.

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