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Mismatch negativity (MMN) is measured by subtracting the averaged response to a set of standard stimuli from the averaged response to rarer deviant stimuli, and taking the amplitude of this difference wave in a given time window. This method is problematic when used to evaluate individuals, because there is no estimate of variance. We describe a new approach, in which independent components with high trial-by-trial variance are first removed. Next, each deviant response has the preceding standard response subtracted, giving a set of single trial difference waves. We illustrate this approach in analysis of MMN to brief tones in 17 adults. The best criterion for MMN combined t-test with an index of inter-trial coherence, giving significant MMN in 14 (82%) of individuals. Single-trial methods can indicate which people show MMN. However, in some clinically normal individuals there was no MMN, despite good behavioral discrimination of stimuli.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





697 - 705


Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Artifacts, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Female, Humans, Male, Pitch Discrimination, Principal Component Analysis, Reflex, Startle