Event-related potentials were recorded to investigate the maturation of auditory processing in school-age children.
The mismatch negativity (MMN) was obtained in an oddball tone discrimination paradigm in 66 school-age children and 12 adults. In the children's data, a prominent negativity to both the standard and deviant tone, peaking around 200 msec, was observed, and compared with the N1 auditory evoked potential component.
The MMN was found to decrease with latency by 11 msec/yr from 4 to 10 yr of age. No developmental change in MMN amplitude was seen from 4 to 10 yr of age. However, the MMN amplitude was significantly smaller in adults than in children. The prominent negativity in children was significantly later than the adult N1 component, and did not change in latency from 4 to 10 yr of age. This finding adds to a body of evidence suggesting that this prominent negativity and the adult N1 are not the same component. The magnitude of the prominent negativity in children decreased slightly with age.
Changes in the timing of the brain discriminative response, MMN, suggest systematic maturational changes in auditory processing.