Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 115, Issue 8, pp 1221–1229 | Cite as

Development of auditory sensory memory from 2 to 6 years: an MMN study

  • Elisabeth Glass
  • Steffi Sachse
  • Waldemar von Suchodoletz
Biological Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Original Article


Short-term storage of auditory information is thought to be a precondition for cognitive development, and deficits in short-term memory are believed to underlie learning disabilities and specific language disorders. We examined the development of the duration of auditory sensory memory in normally developing children between the ages of 2 and 6 years. To probe the lifetime of auditory sensory memory we elicited the mismatch negativity (MMN), a component of the late auditory evoked potential, with tone stimuli of two different frequencies presented with various interstimulus intervals between 500 and 5,000 ms. Our findings suggest that memory traces for tone characteristics have a duration of 1–2 s in 2- and 3-year-old children, more than 2 s in 4-year-olds and 3–5 s in 6-year-olds. The results provide insights into the maturational processes involved in auditory sensory memory during the sensitive period of cognitive development.


Auditory sensory memory Duration of memory trace Event-related potential Mismatch negativity (MMN) Children Maturation 



We thank Monika Hage and Elisabeth Greiner for their assistance in collecting the EEG data. We are also particularly grateful to all the children and their parents for participating in this study. Parts of the results have been generated in the context of the doctoral thesis of E. Glass at the medical faculty of the University of Munich (LMU Munich) (in preparation). This research was supported by the Friedrich-Baur-Stiftung, grant 0057/2006 awarded to S. S.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Glass
    • 1
  • Steffi Sachse
    • 1
  • Waldemar von Suchodoletz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatic and PsychotherapyLudwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunichGermany

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