Mismatch negativity (MMN) as a tool for investigating auditory discrimination and sensory memory in infants and children

Marie Cheour*, Paavo H.t. Leppänen, Nina Kraus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

228 Scopus citations


For decades behavioral methods, such as the head-turning or sucking paradigms, have been the primary methods to investigate auditory discrimination, learning and the function of sensory memory in infancy and early childhood. During recent years, however, a new method for investigating these issues in children has emerged. This method makes use of the mismatch negativity (MMN), the brain's automatic change-detection response, which has been used intensively in both basic and clinical studies in adults for twenty years. This review demonstrates that, unlike many other components of event-related potentials, the MMN is developmentally quite stable and can be obtained even from pre-term infants. Further, MMN amplitude is only slightly smaller in infants than is usually reported in school-age children and it does not seem to differ much from that obtained in adults. MMN latency has been reported to be slightly longer in infants than in adults but reaches adult values by the early school-age years. Child MMN does not seem to be analogous to adult MMN, however. For example, contrary to the results of adult studies, a prominent MMN can be obtained from in all waking- and sleep states in infants. Moreover, MMN scalp distribution seems to be broader and more central in children than in adults. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-16
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Auditory
  • Children
  • Event-related potentials
  • Memory trace
  • Mismatch negativity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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