Sensory memory during physiological aging indexed by mismatch negativity (MMN)

Manuela Ruzzoli, Cornelia Pirulli, Debora Brignani, Claudio Maioli, Carlo Miniussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physiological aging affects early sensory-perceptual processes. The aim of this experiment was to evaluate changes in auditory sensory memory in physiological aging using the Mismatch Negativity (MMN) paradigm as index. The MMN is a marker recorded through the electroencephalogram and is used to evaluate the integrity of the memory system. We adopted a new, faster paradigm to look for differences between 3 groups of subjects of different ages (young, middle age and older adults) as a function of short or long intervals between stimuli. We found that older adults did not show MMN at long interval condition and that the duration of MMN varied according to the participants' age. The current study provides electrophysiological evidence supporting the theory that the encoding of stimuli is preserved during normal aging, whereas the maintenance of sensory memory is impaired. Considering the advantage offered by the MMN paradigm used here, these data might be a useful reference point for the assessment of auditory sensory memory in pathological aging (e.g., in neurodegenerative diseases).

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Auditory memory
  • ERP
  • MMN
  • Normal aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Ageing
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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