First-impression bias effects on mismatch negativity to auditory spatial deviants.Psychophysiology. 2018 04; 55(4)P
Internal models of regularities in the world serve to facilitate perception as redundant input can be predicted and neural resources conserved for that which is new or unexpected. In the auditory system, this is reflected in an evoked potential component known as mismatch negativity (MMN). MMN is elicited by the violation of an established regularity to signal the inaccuracy of the current model and direct resources to the unexpected event. Prevailing accounts suggest that MMN amplitude will increase with stability in regularity; however, observations of first-impression bias contradict stability effects. If tones rotate probabilities as a rare deviant (p = .125) and common standard (p = .875), MMN elicited to the initial deviant tone reaches maximal amplitude faster than MMN to the first standard when later encountered as deviant-a differential pattern that persists throughout rotations. Sensory inference is therefore biased by longer-term contextual information beyond local probability statistics. Using the same multicontext sequence structure, we examined whether this bias generalizes to MMN elicited by spatial sound cues using monaural sounds (n = 19, right first deviant and n = 22, left first deviant) and binaural sounds (n = 19, right first deviant). The characteristic differential modulation of MMN to the two tones was observed in two of three groups, providing partial support for the generalization of first-impression bias to spatially deviant sounds. We discuss possible explanations for its absence when the initial deviant was delivered monaurally to the right ear.