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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01970

Visual perceptual load does not affect the frequency mismatch negativity

  • 1Gösta Ekman Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden
  • 2Stockholm University, Sweden

The mismatch negativity (MMN) has been of particular interest in auditory perception because of its sensitivity to auditory change. It is typically measured in an oddball task and is computed as the difference of deviant minus standard tones. Previous studies suggest that the oddball MMN can be reduced by crossmodal attention to a concurrent, difficult visual task. However, more recent studies did not replicate this effect. Because previous findings seem to be biased, we preregistered the present study and used Bayesian hypothesis testing to measure the strength of evidence for or against an effect of visual task difficulty. We manipulated visual perceptual load (high and low load). In the task, the visual stimuli were identical for both loads to avoid confounding effects from physical differences of the visual stimuli. We also measured the corrected MMN because the oddball MMN may be confounded by physical differences between deviant and standard tones. The corrected MMN is obtained with a separate control condition in which the same tone as the deviant (critical tone) is equiprobable with other tones. The corrected MMN is computed as deviant minus critical tones. Furthermore, we assessed working memory capacity to examine its moderating role. In our large sample (N = 49), the evidential strength in support of no effect of visual load was moderate for the oddball MMN (9.09 > BF01 > 3.57) and anecdotal to moderate for the corrected MMN (4.55 > BF01 > 2.17). Also, working memory capacity did not correlate with the visual load effect on the oddball MMN and the corrected MMN. The present findings support the robustness of the auditory frequency MMN to manipulations of crossmodal, visual attention and suggest that this relationship is not moderated by working memory capacity.

Keywords: mismatch negativity (MMN), perceptual load, crossmodal attention, oddball, Working memory capacity (WMC), N1

Received: 20 Mar 2019; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Wiens, Van Berlekom, Szychowska and Eklund. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Stefan Wiens, Gösta Ekman Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden,