The perspectives of application of the mismatch negativity (MMN), generated by the brain’s automatic response to change in auditory stimulation, are discussed. In light of the fact that the MMN (and its magnetic equivalent MMNm) currently provides the only objective measure of the accuracy of the central auditory function, these perspectives appear very promising. The MMN can be measured in the absence of attention and task requirements, which makes it particularly suitable for testing different clinical populations and infants. Furthermore, the MMN enables one to evaluate the accuracy of auditory discrimination separately for any acoustic feature, such as frequency, intensity and duration, and for learned categories, such as the phonemes of a particular language. In addition, by measuring the decay of the MMN amplitude as a function of the interstimulus interval, it is possible to estimate the duration of sensory (echoic) memory.
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