Risto Näätänen
University of Arhus, Denmark

Presentation Topic:
Primitive Intelligence Of The Human Brain As Indexed By The Mismatch Negativity (MMN)


A large number of recent studies show that in audition, surprisingly complex cognitive processes occur automatically and mainly in the sensory-specific cortical areas. These processes include, among other things, stimulus anticipation and extrapolation, as well as sequential stimulus-rule, stimulus pattern, and pitch-interval extraction. Moreover, these complex automatic perceptual-cognitive processes, first found in waking adults performing a primary task in vision, occur similarly even in sleeping newborns, anesthesized rats, and deeply sedated healthy adult humans, suggesting that they form the common perceptual-cognitive core of cognitive processes in general, shared by different species, ontological stages, and states of consciousness. Consequently, these studies also suggest that MMN could be used in the objective assessment of cognitive abilities in healthy human subjects and in different clinical populations by recording it in paradigms targeting such complex sensory-cognitive processes. This might complement the objective assessment of cognitive abilities already demonstrated by some previous studies recording MMN to simple auditory changes.

Professor Risto Naatanen received his training in cognitive electrophysiology in the laboratories of Prof. D. B. Lindsley at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. in 1965-6. He defended his Doctoral Thesis work on brain mechanisms of selective attention in the University of Helsinki in 1967 and served as Professor of General Psychology in the same university in 1975-83 when he was appointed as Academy Professor of The Academy of Finland for 1983-2007. Currently, he is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the University of Tartu, Estonia and Visiting Professor at the Centre of Functionally Integrative Neurosciences (CFIN) in the University of Århus, Denmark.