Postersession 1
Poster #: 70
Topic: Memory and perception
Wednesday, Sep 9, 2015
1st floor

Prediction error is reduced for angry vocalizations: insights from ERP and neural oscillations

Ana Pinheiro1, João Pedrosa2, Margarida Vasconcelos, Carla Barros2, & Sonja Kotz3

1School of Psychology, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
2Braga, Portugal
3Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Introduction: The capacity to predict what should happen next is a central aspect in perception. In the context of social communication, the effective prediction of auditory inputs that may include emotional information conveyed through the speaker’s voice is critical. However, it is still unclear how the perceived salience of vocal stimuli affects sensory prediction and the detection of sensory deviance representing a prediction error. This question was probed using a combined event-related potential (ERP) and time-frequency approach.

Method: Short neutral, angry and happy vocalizations were presented both as standard and deviant stimuli to 20 healthy college students in a passive listening oddball paradigm. Participants were instructed to watch a silent movie and to ignore the sounds. The Mismatch Negativity (MMN) was analyzed. Furthermore, wavelet analysis of single trial data was performed to estimate phase synchrony (phase-locking factor–PLF) of the early auditory-evoked gamma-band response to each type of vocalization.

Results: MMN amplitude was reduced and PLF was increased for angry compared to neutral and happy vocalizations.

Discussion: These findings confirm that the brain is tuned to detect vocal changes and that deviance detection is modulated by stimulus salience. A reduced prediction error response to angry vocalizations may diminish the need to adjust an internal model and represent an economy of processing resources in the absence of any negative consequences following stimuli with aversive content.