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Memory Traces For Words As Revealed By The Mismatch Negativity (MMN)
PULVERMULLER, F., Kujala, T., SHTYROV, Y., Simola, J., Tiitinen, H., Alku, P., Alho, K., Martinkauppi, S., Ilmoniemi, R.I. & Naatanen, R.
NeuroImage, 14(3), 607-616
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Brain responses to the same spoken syllable completing a Finnish word or pseudo-word were studied. Native Finnish-speaking subjects were instructed to ignore the sound stimuli and watch a silent movie while the mismatch negativity (MMN), an automatic index of experience-dependent auditory memory traces, was recorded. The MMN to each syllable was larger when it completed a word than when it completed a pseudo-word. This enhancement, reaching its maximum amplitude at about 150 ms after the word's recognition point, did not occur in foreign subjects who did not know any Finnish. These results provide the first demonstration of the presence of memory traces for individual spoken words in the human brain. Using whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG), the major intracranial source of this word-related MMN was found in the left superior temporal lobe.