The effect of illusionary perception on mismatch negativity (MMN): An electroencephalography study

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Abstract

Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a unique brain response elicited by any discernible change of features in a tone sequence. Although the occurrence of MMN is dependent upon the difference of a stimulus parameter, such as frequency or intensity, recent studies have suggested that MMN occurs as a result of a comparison between an internal representation created by perception and an incoming tone. The present study aimed to investigate MMN occurs based upon the physical properties of stimuli or as a result of the perception of the scale illusion. A scale illusion occurs during presentation of ascending and descending musical scales between C4 and C5. The tones of these scales are presented to the right and left ear alternately using a dichotic listening paradigm. Although the ascending/descending sequences are alternated between ears after each tone, we perceive the illusion of progressively ascending/descending tones as being separated by ear. The experiment was designed as an oddball task using the illusionary sequence and three different types of tone sequences as control conditions. Brain response to these sequences and infrequently presented deviants was measured using electroencephalography (EEG). All of the control sequences showed MMN in response to the deviant. However, the illusionary sequence did not result in a significant MMN. These results suggest that in the case of scale illusion, the occurrence of MMN is based upon the representation of tones created by perception, but not upon the physical properties of a tone sequence.

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