Abstract

Korka, B., Schröger, E., & Widmann, A. (in press). What exactly is missing here? The sensory processing of unpredictable omissions is modulated by the specificity of expected action-effects. European Journal of Neuroscience.

What exactly is missing here? The sensory processing of unpredictable omissions is modulated by the specificity of expected action-effects

We select our actions according to the desired outcomes; for instance, piano players press certain keys to generate specific musical notes. It is well-described that the omission of a predicted action-effect may elicit prediction error signals in the brain, but what happens in the case of simultaneous effector-specific (by contrast to effector–unspecific) predictions? To answer this question, we asked participants to press left and right keys to generate tones A and B; based on the action-effect association, the tones’ identity was either predictable or unpredictable, while rarely, the expected input was omitted. Crucially, the data show that omissions following hand-specific associations reliably elicited a late omission N1 (oN1) component, by contrast to the hand-unspecific associations, where the late oN1 was rather weak. An additional condition where both key-presses generated a unique tone was implemented. Here, rare omissions of the expected tone generated both early and late oN1 responses, by contrast to the condition in which two simultaneous action-effect representations had to be maintained, where only late oN1 responses were elicited. Finally, omission P3 (oP3) responses were strongly elicited for all omission types without differences, indicating that a general expectation based on a tone presentation (rather than which tone), is likely indexed at this stage. The present results emphasize the top-down effects of action intention on the sensory processing of omissions, where unspecific (vs. specific) and multiple (vs. single) action-effect representations are associated with processing costs at the early sensory levels.



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