A frontal attention mechanism in the visual mismatch negativity

Craig Hedge*, George Stothart, Jenna Todd Jones, Priscila Rojas Frías, Kristopher Lundy Magee, Jonathan C.W. Brooks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Automatic detection of environmental change is a core component of attention. The mismatch negativity (MMN), an electrophysiological marker of this mechanism, has been studied prominently in the auditory domain, with cortical generators identified in temporal and frontal regions. Here, we combined electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess whether the underlying frontal regions associated with auditory change detection also play a role in visual change detection. Twenty healthy young adults completed a visual MMN task in separate EEG and fMRI sessions. Region of interest analyses were conducted on left and right middle frontal (MFG) and inferior frontal (IFG) gyri, i.e., the frontal areas identified as potential auditory MMN generators. A significant increase in activation was observed in the left IFG and MFG in response to blocks containing deviant stimuli. These findings suggest that a frontal mechanism is involved in the detection of change in the visual MMN. Our results support the notion that frontal mechanisms underlie attention switching, as measured via MMN, across multiple modalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license

Funding: This work was funded by a Roberts fund grant for postgraduate skills training from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. JCWB was supported by the UK Medical Research Council.


  • Attention
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Mismatch negativity
  • Visual attention
  • VMMN


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