For us to function effectively, our brain must automatically detect relevant and minute changes in the environment. The neural underpinnings of this ability are reflected by the Mismatch Negativity (MMN), representing the brain’s automatic change-detection process, activated whenever an event does not match the brain’s prediction of environmental regularities. Since its discovery by Prof. Risto Näätänen, the MMN has been utilized in thousands of basic, applied, and clinical studies aimed to unravel how the human brain detects regularities. Over the years, MMN studies have shed light on how these mechanisms develop, how they are relevant in everyday situations such as language learning and music listening, and how they are impaired in various disorders. The MMN 2018 conference is the platform for the recent and highly influential findings in both basic and applied research related to the MMN.
Since the pioneering publication by Professor emeritus Risto Näätänen in late 1970s about the MMN as an index of neural discrimination, Helsinki has been in the core of MMN research. This has been reflected, for instance, in the choice of Helsinki as the host of the first ever MMN congress in 1998.
Now, 40 years after the first publication and 20 years after the first congress, we can evidence extensive increase in the amount of MMN studies and, in parallel, in the variety of their topics, sensory modalities, and research methods. This is naturally also reflected in the geographical distribution of laboratories involved in MMN research.
This spirit of international open-minded collaboration and interdisciplinarity, supported by multimethodological expertise, we wish to share in MMN2018 congress. By means of key note talks, pre-selected symposia, and lively poster sessions, we wish to upgrade the common data base of the MMN community to meet the scientific and societal challenges of future.
We wish you inspiring congress stay!
Mari Tervaniemi, Research director, Faculty of Educational Sciences - Congress chair
Teija Kujala, Professor, Faculty of Medical Sciences - Congress vice-chair
University of Helsinki was established in 1640 and with its 35000 students it is the largest university in Finland. As a research intensive University, we have been happy to follow the establishment of MMN phenomenon since late 1970s – MMN being an index of brain discrimination ability in several sensory modalities. Thereafter, we have been delighted to document the fast development of the related studies: With both basic and applied perspectives utilizing multimethodological framework, work around MMN is an excellent example of a pioneering approach with versatile scientific and societal promises.
Once again, my warmest welcome!
Sari Lindblom, Professor in education and Vice rector, University of Helsinki