Mismatch negativity to tonal contours suggests preattentive perception of prosodic content

David I. Leitman, Pejman Sehatpour, Marina Shpaner, John J. Foxe, Daniel C. Javitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Modulation of speech conveys information that is decoded within audio-sensory structures. For example, the termination of an utterance with a rise in pitch distinguishes statements and questions. This study evaluated the sensitivity of early auditory structures to such linguistic prosodic distinctions using mismatch negativity (MMN). MMN is a preattentive auditory event-related potential (ERP) sensitive to stimulus deviance. High-density ERP to pitch contour stimuli were collected in a passive listening oddball paradigm from 11 healthy subjects. Voltage analysis revealed significant MMN responses to declarative and interrogative oddball stimuli. Further, MMN was significantly larger to interrogative, than declarative, deviants, indicating non-symmetric brain processing. These MMNs demonstrate that pitch contour abstractions reflecting interrogative/ declarative distinctions can be represented in preattentive auditory sensory memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • ERP
  • MMN
  • Pattern
  • Prosody
  • Speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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