Neural representations of events arise from temporal community structure

Nat Neurosci. 2013 Apr;16(4):486-92. doi: 10.1038/nn.3331. Epub 2013 Feb 17.


Our experience of the world seems to divide naturally into discrete, temporally extended events, yet the mechanisms underlying the learning and identification of events are poorly understood. Research on event perception has focused on transient elevations in predictive uncertainty or surprise as the primary signal driving event segmentation. We present human behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence in favor of a different account, in which event representations coalesce around clusters or 'communities' of mutually predicting stimuli. Through parsing behavior, fMRI adaptation and multivoxel pattern analysis, we demonstrate the emergence of event representations in a domain containing such community structure, but in which transition probabilities (the basis of uncertainty and surprise) are uniform. We present a computational account of how the relevant representations might arise, proposing a direct connection between event learning and the learning of semantic categories.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Computational Biology / trends
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / trends
  • Male
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult