skip to primary navigation skip to content

CBSU bibliography search

To request a reprint of a CBSU publication, please click here to send us an email (reprints may not be available for all publications)

The sound of actions as reflected by mismatch negativity: Rapid activation of cortical sensory-motor networks by sounds associated with finger and tongue movements
European Journal of Neuroscience, 23(3), 811-821
Year of publication:
CBU number:
In order to explore the activation dynamics of the human action recognition system, we investigated electrophysiological distinctions between the brain responses to sounds produced by human finger and tongue movements. Of special interest were the questions how early these differences may occur, and whether the neural activation already at the early stages of processing involves cortical motor representations related to the generation of these sounds. For this purpose we employed a high-density EEG set-up and recorded mismatch negativity (MMN) using a recently developed novel multi-deviant paradigm which allows to acquire a high number of trials within a given time period. Deviant stimuli were naturally recorded finger and tongue clicks, as well as control stimuli with similar physical features, but without the clear action associations (this was tested in a separate behavioural experiment). Both natural stimuli produced larger MMNs than their respective control stimuli already at around 100ms indicating activation of memory traces for familiar action-related sounds. Furthermore, MMN topography at this latency differed between the brain responses to the natural finger and natural tongue sounds. Source estimation revealed strongest sources for finger sounds in centro-lateral areas of the left hemisphere, suggesting that hearing a sound related to finger actions evokes activity in motor areas associated with the dominant hand. Furthermore, tongue sounds produced activation in more inferior brain areas. Our data suggest that motor areas in the human brain are part of neural systems subserving the early automatic recognition of action-related sounds.