Abstract

Infrequent “deviant” auditory stimuli embedded in a homogeneous sequence of “standard” sounds evoke a neuromagnetic mismatch field (MMF), which is assumed to reflect automatic change detection in the brain. We investigated whether MMFs would reveal hemispheric differences in cortical auditory processing. Seven healthy adults were studied with a whole-scalp neuromagnetometer. The sound sequence, delivered to one ear at time, contained three infrequent deviants (differing from standards in duration, frequency, or interstimulus interval) intermixed with standard tones. MMFs peaked 9–34 msec earlier in the right than in the left hemisphere, irrespective of the stimulated ear. Whereas deviants activated only one MMF source in the left hemisphere, two temporally overlapping but spatially separate sources, one in the temporal lobe and another in the inferior parietal cortex, were necessary to explain the right-hemisphere MMFs. We suggest that the bilateral MMF components originating in the supratemporal cortex are feature specific whereas the right-hemisphere parietal component reflects more global auditory change detection. The results imply hemispheric differences in sound processing and suggest stronger involvement of the right than the left hemisphere in change detection.