Aarhus University Seal

Long-term implicit memory for sequential auditory patterns in humans

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Roberta Bianco, University College London
  • ,
  • Peter M.C. Harrison, Queen Mary University of London
  • ,
  • Mingyue Hu, University College London
  • ,
  • Cora Bolger, University College London
  • ,
  • Samantha Picken, University College London
  • ,
  • Marcus T. Pearce
  • Maria Chait, University College London

Memory, on multiple timescales, is critical to our ability to discover the structure of our surroundings, and efficiently interact with the environment. We combined behavioural manipulation and modelling to investigate the dynamics of memory formation for rarely reoccurring acoustic patterns. In a series of experiments, participants detected the emergence of regularly repeating patterns within rapid tone-pip sequences. Unbeknownst to them, a few patterns reoccurred every ~3 minutes. All sequences consisted of the same 20 frequencies and were distinguishable only by the order of tone-pips. Despite this, reoccurring patterns were associated with a rapidly growing detection-time advantage over novel patterns. This effect was implicit, robust to interference, and persisted up to 7 weeks. The results implicate an interplay between short (a few seconds) and long-term (over many minutes) integration in memory formation and demonstrate the remarkable sensitivity of the human auditory system to sporadically reoccurring structure within the acoustic environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere56073
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, eLife Sciences Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Auditory scene analysis, Memory, Perception, PPM, Predictive coding, Sequential pattern

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 217217124