The MMN as a viable and objective marker of auditory development in CI users
In the present article, we review the studies on the use of the mismatch negativity (MMN) as a tool for an objective assessment of cochlear-implant (CI) functioning after its implantation and as a function of time of CI use. The MMN indexes discrimination of different sound stimuli with a precision matching with that of behavioral discrimination and can therefore be used as its objective index. Importantly, these measurements can be reliably carried out even in the absence of attention and behavioral responses and therefore they can be extended to populations that are not capable of behaviorally reporting their perception such as infants and different clinical patient groups. In infants and small children with CI, the MMN provides the only means for assessing the adequacy of the CI functioning, its improvement as a function of time of CI use, and the efficiency of different rehabilitation procedures. Therefore, the MMN can also be used as a tool in developing and testing different novel rehabilitation procedures. Importantly, the recently developed multi-feature MMN paradigms permit the objective assessment of discrimination accuracy for all the different auditory dimensions (such as frequency, intensity, and duration) in a short recording time of about 30 min. Most recently, such stimulus paradigms have been successfully developed for an objective assessment of music perception, too.