Frequency specific impairment of automatic pitch change detection by fMRI acoustic noise: An MEG study
The loud acoustic noise produced by the magnetic resonance scanner is a major source of interference in auditory fMRI research. Whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to investigate the interaction between the frequency range of auditory stimulation and fMRI acoustic noise. Pure tones and 3-harmonic complexes varying between 240 and 1240 Hz in frequency were presented while participants attended to a silent subtitled film. Continuous fMRI acoustic noise was presented during half of the blocks. The activity in six regions of interest was analyzed in 100–200 and 200–300 ms time windows to evaluate the magnetic counterparts of the mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a brain responses. The results suggested that fMRI noise significantly reduced the amplitude of these responses. The effect of the noise on the automatic processing of the tones was more prominent for the tones with frequencies higher than 500 Hz. It is recommended that in the MMN protocols using continuous fMRI acquisition the sound stimuli should be spectrally separated from the fMRI scanner noise spectrum.