Repetition suppression and expectation suppression are dissociable in time in early auditory evoked fields

J Neurosci. 2012 Sep 26;32(39):13389-95. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2227-12.2012.


Repetition of a stimulus, as well as valid expectation that a stimulus will occur, both attenuate the neural response to it. These effects, repetition suppression and expectation suppression, are typically confounded in paradigms in which the nonrepeated stimulus is also relatively rare (e.g., in oddball blocks of mismatch negativity paradigms, or in repetition suppression paradigms with multiple repetitions before an alternation). However, recent hierarchical models of sensory processing inspire the hypothesis that the two might be separable in time, with repetition suppression occurring earlier, as a consequence of local transition probabilities, and suppression by expectation occurring later, as a consequence of learnt statistical regularities. Here we test this hypothesis in an auditory experiment by orthogonally manipulating stimulus repetition and stimulus expectation and, using magnetoencephalography, measuring the neural response over time in human subjects. We found that stimulus repetition (but not stimulus expectation) attenuates the early auditory response (40-60 ms), while stimulus expectation (but not stimulus repetition) attenuates the subsequent, intermediate stage of auditory processing (100-200 ms). These findings are well in line with hierarchical predictive coding models, which posit sequential stages of prediction error resolution, contingent on the level at which the hypothesis is generated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Pitch Perception
  • Reaction Time
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult