AIMS Neuroscience, 2017, 4(1): 14-27. doi: 10.3934/Neuroscience.2017.1.14

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The Magnetic Acoustic Change Complex and Mismatch Field: A Comparison of Neurophysiological Measures of Auditory Discrimination

1 ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australia;
2 Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia;
3 Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, United Kingdom;
4 HEARing Co-operative Research Centre, VIC, Australia;
5 National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW, Australia;
6 Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

The Acoustic Change Complex (ACC), a P1-N1-P2-like event-related response to changes in a continuous sound, has been suggested as a reliable, objective, and efficient test of auditory discrimination. We used magnetoencephalography to compare the magnetic ACC (mACC) to the more widely used mismatch field (MMF). Brain responses of 14 adults were recorded during mACC and MMF paradigms involving the same pitch and vowel changes in a synthetic vowel sound. Analyses of peak amplitudes revealed a significant interaction between stimulus and paradigm: for the MMF, the response was greater for vowel changes than for pitch changes, whereas, for the mACC, the pattern was reversed. A similar interaction was observed for the signal to noise ratio and single-trial analysis of individual participants’ responses showed that the MMF to Pitch changes was elicited less consistently than the other three responses. Results support the view that the ACC/mACC is a robust and efficient measure of simple auditory discrimination, particularly when researchers or clinicians are interested in the responses of individual listeners. However, the differential sensitivity of the two paradigms to the same acoustic changes indicates that the mACC and MMF are indices of different aspects of auditory processing and should, therefore, be seen as complementary rather than competing neurophysiological measures.
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