A Generic Fronto-sensory Cortical Brain Network in Prediction Violation: A Simultaneous Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Event-related Optical Signal Study on Pre-attentive Change Detection

Project: Research

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The human brain is constantly monitoring the environment for unexpected changes without conscious awareness. For example, when we are fully engaged in work at a coffee shop, our brain can automatically detect environmental changes through different sensory modalities (e.g., the cry of a baby, the appearance of a waiter in the peripheral vision). A prediction violation mechanism based on the predictive brain principle has been proposed. Human brains automatically seek regularities embedded in the environment to establish prediction models for anticipating future events. A mismatch between an incoming event and the prediction elicits an error signal. When the deviation from the prediction is salient, the prediction error initiates a model updating process to improve future predictions and triggers remedial actions. We postulated a generic feedback mechanism involving a frontal-sensory-frontal cortical brain network. The early frontal cortex is responsible for non-modality-specific prediction mode establishment and fitting process, the sensory cortices (e.g., superior temporal and occipital cortices; STC and OC) are responsible for modality-specific prediction error generation, while the late IFC is involved in non-modality-specific prediction model updating process. Our previous brain imaging studies consistently demonstrated similar frontotemporal and fronto-occipital cortical mismatch responses in pre-attentive auditory (Tse et al., 2006, 2008, 2013) and visual (Tse et al., 2021) change detection, respectively, with an optical brain imaging method, the Event-related Optical Signals (EROS). EROS measures the change in optical properties associated with neuronal brain responses and can localize cortical responses temporally and spatially in the millisecond and sub-centimeter range to unfold the brain activation sequences hypothesized by the prediction violation hypothesis. Our other studies (Tse et al., 2018; Xiao et al., 2020) combined a brain stimulation method, the Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) with EROS and demonstrated the causal connection from the early frontal to temporal cortex for prediction model establishment and fitting in the auditory modality. However, empirical works supporting the generic fronto-sensory cortical network underlying the prediction violation mechanism have not been completed. Previous studies have not investigated the causal STC-to-late IFC connection related to prediction model updating in auditory change detection; the existence of the causal early IFC-to-OC-to-late IFC connections in visual change detection remains unknown. Three experiments are proposed to investigate these causal functional connections with the TMS-EROS method to lay support for the generic fronto-sensory cortical network and the prediction violation mechanism in pre-attentive detection.


Project number9043462
Grant typeGRF
StatusNot started
Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …