Time-compressed preplay of anticipated events in human primary visual cortex

Nat Commun. 2017 May 23;8:15276. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15276.


Perception is guided by the anticipation of future events. It has been hypothesized that this process may be implemented by pattern completion in early visual cortex, in which a stimulus sequence is recreated after only a subset of the visual input is provided. Here we test this hypothesis using ultra-fast functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure BOLD activity at precisely defined receptive field locations in visual cortex (V1) of human volunteers. We find that after familiarizing subjects with a spatial sequence, flashing only the starting point of the sequence triggers an activity wave in V1 that resembles the full stimulus sequence. This preplay activity is temporally compressed compared to the actual stimulus sequence and remains present even when attention is diverted from the stimulus sequence. Preplay might therefore constitute an automatic prediction mechanism for temporal sequences in V1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sample Size
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception*