Temporal expectations and neural amplitude fluctuations in auditory cortex interactively influence perception

Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 1;124(Pt A):487-497. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.09.019. Epub 2015 Sep 18.


Alignment of neural oscillations with temporally regular input allows listeners to generate temporal expectations. However, it remains unclear how behavior is governed in the context of temporal variability: What role do temporal expectations play, and how do they interact with the strength of neural oscillatory activity? Here, human participants detected near-threshold targets in temporally variable acoustic sequences. Temporal expectation strength was estimated using an oscillator model and pre-target neural amplitudes in auditory cortex were extracted from magnetoencephalography signals. Temporal expectations modulated target-detection performance, however, only when neural delta-band amplitudes were large. Thus, slow neural oscillations act to gate influences of temporal expectation on perception. Furthermore, slow amplitude fluctuations governed linear and quadratic influences of auditory alpha-band activity on performance. By fusing a model of temporal expectation with neural oscillatory dynamics, the current findings show that human perception in temporally variable contexts relies on complex interactions between multiple neural frequency bands.

Keywords: Auditory alpha oscillations; Auditory perception; Neural entrainment; Temporal expectations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm*
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Delta Rhythm*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Young Adult