Abstract

Schröger, E., Marzecova, A., & SanMiguel, I. (2015). Attention and prediction in human audition: a lesson from cognitive psychophysiology. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41(5), 641-664.

Attention and prediction in human audition: a lesson from cognitive psychophysiology

Attention is a hypothetical mechanism in the service of perception that facilitates the processing of relevant information and inhibits the processing of irrelevant information. Prediction is a hypothetical mechanism in the service of perception that considers prior information when interpreting the sensorial input. Although both (attention and prediction) aid perception, they are rarely considered together. Auditory attention typically yields enhanced brain activity, whereas auditory prediction often results in attenuated brain responses. However, when strongly predicted sounds are omitted, brain responses to silence resemble those elicited by sounds. Studies jointly investigating attention and prediction revealed that these different mechanisms may interact, e.g. attention may magnify the processing differences between predicted and unpredicted sounds. Following the predictive coding theory, we suggest that prediction relates to predictions sent down from predictive models housed in higher levels of the processing hierarchy to lower levels and attention refers to gain modulation of the prediction error signal sent up to the higher level. As predictions encode contents and confidence in the sensory data, and as gain can be modulated by the intention of the listener and by the predictability of the input, various possibilities for interactions between attention and prediction can be unfolded. From this perspective, the traditional distinction between bottom-up/exogenous and top-down/endogenous driven attention can be revisited and the classic concepts of attentional gain and attentional trace can be integrated.



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