“What” and “when” predictions modulate auditory processing in a mutually congruent manner

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  • Hiu Wai Lai
  • Fei Peng
  • Lucia Melloni
  • Ryszard Auksztulewicz

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1180066
Journal / PublicationFrontiers in Neuroscience
Online published15 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023



Introduction: Extracting regularities from ongoing stimulus streams to form predictions is crucial for adaptive behavior. Such regularities exist in terms of the content of the stimuli and their timing, both of which are known to interactively modulate sensory processing. In real-world stimulus streams such as music, regularities can occur at multiple levels, both in terms of contents (e.g., predictions relating to individual notes vs. their more complex groups) and timing (e.g., pertaining to timing between intervals vs. the overall beat of a musical phrase). However, it is unknown whether the brain integrates predictions in a manner that is mutually congruent (e.g., if “beat” timing predictions selectively interact with “what” predictions falling on pulses which define the beat), and whether integrating predictions in different timing conditions relies on dissociable neural correlates.
Methods: To address these questions, our study manipulated “what” and “when” predictions at different levels – (local) interval-defining and (global) beat-defining – within the same stimulus stream, while neural activity was recorded using electroencephalogram (EEG) in participants (N = 20) performing a repetition detection task.
Results: Our results reveal that temporal predictions based on beat or interval timing modulated mismatch responses to violations of “what” predictions happening at the predicted time points, and that these modulations were shared between types of temporal predictions in terms of the spatiotemporal distribution of EEG signals. Effective connectivity analysis using dynamic causal modeling showed that the integration of “what” and “when” predictions selectively increased connectivity at relatively late cortical processing stages, between the superior temporal gyrus and the fronto-parietal network.
Discussion: Taken together, these results suggest that the brain integrates different predictions with a high degree of mutual congruence, but in a shared and distributed cortical network. This finding contrasts with recent studies indicating separable mechanisms for beat-based and memory-based predictive processing.
© 2023 Cappotto, Luo, Lai, Peng, Melloni, Schnupp and Auksztulewicz.

Research Area(s)

  • auditory neuroscience, dynamic causal modeling, electroencephalography, predictive coding, temporal processing

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