Rhythmic influence of top-down perceptual priors in the phase of pre-stimulus occipital alpha oscillations

Sherman, Maxine T, Kanai, Ryota, Seth, Anil K and VanRullen, Rufin (2016) Rhythmic influence of top-down perceptual priors in the phase of pre-stimulus occipital alpha oscillations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28 (9). pp. 1318-1330. ISSN 0898-929X

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Prior expectations have a powerful influence on perception, biasing both decision and confidence. However, how this occurs at the neural level remains unclear. It has been suggested that spontaneous alpha-band neural oscillations represent rhythms of the perceptual system that periodically modulate perceptual judgements. We hypothesised that these oscillations instantiate the effects of expectations. While collecting scalp EEG, participants performed a detection task that orthogonally manipulated perceptual expectations and attention. Trial-by-trial retrospective confidence judgements were also collected. Results showed that independently of attention, pre-stimulus occipital alpha phase predicted the weighting of expectations on yes/no decisions. Moreover, phase predicted the influence of expectations on confidence. Thus, expectations periodically bias objective and subjective perceptual decision-making together, prior to stimulus onset. Our results suggest that alphaband neural oscillations periodically transmit prior evidence to visual cortex, changing the baseline from which evidence accumulation begins. In turn, our results inform accounts of how expectations shape early visual processing.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: EEG, Decision making, Consciousness, Visual system, Attention: Visual
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0311 Consciousness. Cognition
Depositing User: Marianne Cole
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2016 13:39
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 16:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60242

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