Temporal dynamics of contingency extraction from tonal and verbal auditory sequences.

Alexandra Bendixen, Michael Schwartze, Sonja A Kotz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Consecutive sound events are often to some degree predictive of each other. Here we investigated the brain's capacity to detect contingencies between consecutive sounds by means of electroencephalography (EEG) during passive listening. Contingencies were embedded either within tonal or verbal stimuli. Contingency extraction was measured indirectly via the elicitation of the mismatch negativity (MMN) component of the event-related potential (ERP) by contingency violations. MMN results indicate that structurally identical forms of predictability can be extracted from both tonal and verbal stimuli. We also found similar generators to underlie the processing of contingency violations across stimulus types, as well as similar performance in an active-listening follow-up test. However, the process of passive contingency extraction was considerably slower (twice as many rule exemplars were needed) for verbal than for tonal stimuli These results suggest caution in transferring findings on complex predictive regularity processing obtained with tonal stimuli directly to the speech domain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)64-73
    JournalBrain and Language
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014


    • Brain activity
    • Contingency learning
    • Deviance detection
    • Event-related potential (ERP)
    • Language
    • Mismatch negativity (MMN)
    • Predictive coding
    • Regularity
    • Speech


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