PREDICTING THE IRRELEVANT: HOW EXPECTATION BIASES SENSORY PROCESSING
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Goal directed behaviour requires selective attention, the process of biasing perception in favour of task-relevant information. Prior knowledge in the form of experience-based expectations heavily infiuences this function. Although task-irrelevant stimuli appear to recruit similar cognitive resources, recent research indicates that facilitation of targets and inhibition of distractors may constitute separate mechanisms that are likely to exhibit distinct patterns of neuronal activity prior to stimulus onset. Here we explored the role of expectations for target and distractor processing with magneto- and electroencephalography (MEG/EEG). In a visual discrimination task we modulated the expected location of relevant and irrelevant stimuli separately to differentiate stimulus specific changes. We found differences in prestimulus alpha power lateralization between targets and distractors when expectations about the upcoming location had been built up. Moreover, using a model-based stimulus decoding approach, we could identify quadrant specific patterns in the alpha band prior to stimulus onset. We speculate that this may be indicative of distinct processes underlying the perception of relevant and irrelevant input.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen