How do familiarity and expectation influence the human brain signal?

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Familiarity (i.e., whether an observer has seen an image before) and expectation (i.e., whether an observer can predict which image will follow based on the current image) can influence the processing of visual information in the brain. The electrophysiological signal from the brain can indicate how visual processing changes between familiar and novel as well as between expected and unexpected images. An important question arising from previous research is whether familiarity has an effect on neural activity that is separable from the effect of expectation. In order to address this issue, we adopted an experimental design which manipulated familiarity separately from expectation, and we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record brain activity in humans. We found that familiarity, unaffected by expectation, has a genuine influence on the brain signal, such that novel images induced significantly higher amplitude than familiar images. In addition, expectation also had an effect on the neural response: unexpected images were accompanied by significantly higher amplitude than expected images. These outcomes demonstrate that both visual familiarity and expectation influence the human electrophysiological signal, and they do so in similar ways. These findings improve our understanding of how visual processing changes with the amount and type of experience the brain has had with a visual stimulus.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen