Is discrimination training necessary to cause changes in the P2 auditory event-related brain potential to speech sounds?
Sheehan KA., McArthur GM., Bishop DV.
Previous studies have found that the P2 component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP) increases after speech discrimination training. We compared electrophysiological and behavioral outcomes of individuals undergoing speech discrimination training (N = 8) with an untrained control group (N = 9). Significant improvements on the behavioral speech discrimination task were found only in the trained group; however, there were similar increases in P2 amplitude in both groups. Simple exposure to repeated instances of a speech sound during the ERP recording seems sufficient lead to enhancement of P2. This interpretation was bolstered by the finding of significant change in P2 during the first and second halves of the initial ERP recording, when listeners were not required to make any discriminative response. However, the largest change in P2 occurred between rather than within recording sessions, suggesting that the effects of exposure to a speech stimulus on ERPs may have a slow time-course and are most evident after a delay. Our data challenge the view that increased P2 amplitude reflects enhanced perceptual discrimination by auditory cortex.