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David Richter, Floris P. de Lange; Attention is a prerequisite for the neural effects of perceptual predictions. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.170.
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Perception is often guided by predictions that we derive from previous experience. However, the automaticity of these perceptual predictions remains a topic of discussion. We and others have previously shown that neural responses to expected compared to unexpected object stimuli are suppressed throughout several cortical areas, including major parts of the ventral visual stream. In the current study, we examined whether these effects require attention to the predictable stimuli. Using fMRI in a sample (n=34) of healthy volunteers, we find that attention to the object stimuli is a prerequisite for the suppression of neural responses by expectation. Moreover, we show that while attention to the object stimulus is required for expectation suppression, the predictive relationship itself does not need to be task-relevant or attended. Our results indicate that predictions derived from previous experience do not always impact sensory processing, but rather emerge selectively when the predictable stimuli are attended.
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