In everyday life we frequently make the fundamental distinction between sensory input resulting from our own actions and sensory input that is externally-produced. It has been speculated that making this distinction involves the use of an internal forward-model, which enables the brain to adjust its response to self-produced sensory input. In the auditory domain, this idea has been supported by event-related potential and evoked-magnetic field studies revealing that self-initiated sounds elicit a suppressed N100/M100 brain response compared to externally-produced sounds. Moreover, a recent study reveals that patients with cerebellar lesions do not show a significant N100-suppression effect. This result supports the theory that the cerebellum is essential for generating internal forward predictions. However, all except one study compared self-initiated and externally-produced auditory stimuli in separate conditions. Such a setup prevents an unambiguous interpretation of the N100-suppression effect when distinguishing self- and externally-produced sensory stimuli: the N100-suppression can also be explained by differences in the allocation of attention in different conditions. In the current electroencephalography (EEG)-study we investigated the N100-suppression effect in an altered design comparing (i) self-initiated sounds to externally-produced sounds that occurred intermixed with these self-initiated sounds (i.e., both sound types occurred in the same condition) or (ii) self-initiated sounds to externally-produced sounds that occurred in separate conditions. Results reveal that the cerebellum generates selective predictions in response to self-initiated sounds independent of condition type: cerebellar patients, in contrast to healthy controls, do not display an N100-suppression effect in response to self-initiated sounds when intermixed with externally-produced sounds. Furthermore, the effect is not influenced by the temporal proximity of externally-produced sounds to self-produced sounds. Controls and patients showed a P200-reduction in response to self-initiated sounds. This suggests the existence of an additional and probably more conscious mechanism for identifying self-generated sounds that does not functionally depend on the cerebellum.
Keywords: Auditory prediction; Cerebellum; Event-related potentials (ERP); Forward-model; Selectivity.
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