Prediction error and repetition suppression have distinct effects on neural representations of visual information

Elife. 2018 Dec 14;7:e33123. doi: 10.7554/eLife.33123.


Predictive coding theories argue that recent experience establishes expectations in the brain that generate prediction errors when violated. Prediction errors provide a possible explanation for repetition suppression, where evoked neural activity is attenuated across repeated presentations of the same stimulus. The predictive coding account argues repetition suppression arises because repeated stimuli are expected, whereas non-repeated stimuli are unexpected and thus elicit larger neural responses. Here, we employed electroencephalography in humans to test the predictive coding account of repetition suppression by presenting sequences of visual gratings with orientations that were expected either to repeat or change in separate blocks of trials. We applied multivariate forward modelling to determine how orientation selectivity was affected by repetition and prediction. Unexpected stimuli were associated with significantly enhanced orientation selectivity, whereas selectivity was unaffected for repeated stimuli. Our results suggest that repetition suppression and expectation have separable effects on neural representations of visual feature information.

Keywords: efficient coding; electroencephalography; human; multivariate pattern analysis; neuroscience; predictive coding; visual adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anticipation, Psychological*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.