Prior expectation mediates neural adaptation to repeated sounds in the auditory cortex: an MEG study

J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 22;31(25):9118-23. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1425-11.2011.


Repetition suppression, the phenomenon that the second presentation of a stimulus attenuates neural activity, is typically viewed as an automatic consequence of repeated stimulus presentation. However, a recent neuroimaging study has suggested that repetition suppression may be driven by top-down expectations. Here we examined whether and when repetition suppression can be modulated by top-down expectation. Participants listened to auditory stimuli in blocks where tone repetitions were either expected or unexpected, while we recorded ongoing neural activity using magnetoencephalography. We found robust repetition suppression in the auditory cortex for repeated tones. Interestingly, this reduction was significantly larger for expected than unexpected repetitions, both in terms of evoked activity and gamma-band synchrony. These findings indicate a role of top-down expectation in generating repetition suppression and are in line with predictive coding models of perception, in which the difference between expected and actual input is propagated from lower to higher cortical areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Young Adult