Abstract

Predictive coding models of attention propose that attention and prediction operate synergistically to optimize perception, as reflected in interactive effects on early sensory neural responses. It is yet unclear whether attention and prediction based on the temporal attributes of expected events operate in a similar fashion. We investigated how attention and prediction based on timing interact by manipulating the task relevance and a priori probability of auditory stimulus onset timing within a go/no-go task while recording EEG. Preparatory activity, as indexed via the contingent negative variation, reflected temporally specific anticipation as a function of both attention and prediction. Higher stimulus probability led to significant predictive N1 suppression; however, we failed to find an effect of task relevance on N1 amplitude and an interaction of task relevance with prediction. We suggest the predictability of sensory timing is the predominant influence on early sensory responses where a priori probabilities allow for strong prior beliefs. When this is the case, we find that the effects of temporal prediction on early sensory responses are independent of the task relevance of sensory stimuli. Our findings contribute to the expansion of predictive coding frameworks to include the role of timing in sensory processing.

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