Stimulus repetition can result in a reduction in neural responses (i.e., repetition suppression) in neuroimaging studies. Predictive coding models of perception postulate that this phenomenon largely reflects the top-down attenuation of prediction errors. Electroencephalography research further demonstrated that repetition effects consist of sequentially ordered attention-independent and attention-dependent components in a context of high periodicity. However, the statistical structure of our auditory environment is richer than that of a fixed pattern. It remains unclear if the attentional modulation of repetition effects can be generalised to a setting which better represents the nature of our auditory environment. Here we used electroencephalography to investigate whether the attention-independent and attention-dependent components of repetition effects previously described in the auditory modality remain in a context of low periodicity where temporary disruption might be absent/present. Participants were presented with repetition trains of various lengths, with/without temporary disruptions. We found attention-independent and attention-dependent repetition effects on, respectively, the P2 and P3a event-related potential components. This pattern of results is in line with previous research, confirming that the attenuation of prediction errors upon stimulus repetition is first registered regardless of attentional state before further attenuation of attended but not unattended prediction errors takes place. However, unlike previous reports, these effects manifested on later components. This divergence from previous studies is discussed in terms of the possible contribution of contextual factors.
Keywords: Attention; Auditory perception; Electroencephalography (EEG); Prediction errors; Repetition enhancement; Repetition suppression.
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