A central yet unanswered question in neuroscience concerns the cortical mechanisms by which the brain predictively controls perception and higher-level cognitive functions, e.g., language. My studies investigate how predictions about upcoming stimuli are implemented in brain circuits at different spatial scales, via which mechanisms sensory predictions aid perception and higher-level cognitive function, and how the brain’s predictive machinery may be utilized to systematically improve sensory and memory functions.
Attention to sensory stimuli is never uniformly distributed. We tested whether time-based and feature-based aspects of sensory attention interact in facilitating the detection of new stimuli in a stream. We recorded behavioural and encephalographic (EEG) data while participants attended to repeating pure tones (standard tones) which unpredictably changed in feature (deviant tones). Participants responded more rapidly to deviant tones longer waited for (time or Hazard rate effect), as well as to deviant events carrying larger rather than smaller deviancy magnitudes (feature effect).