Auditory Perceptual History Is Propagated through Alpha Oscillations

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Abstract

Perception is a proactive, “predictive” process, in which the brain relies, at least in part, on accumulated experience to make best guesses about the world to test against sensory data, updating the guesses as new experience is acquired. Using novel behavioral methods, the present study demonstrates the role of alpha rhythms in communicating past perceptual experience. Participants were required to discriminate the ear of origin of brief sinusoidal tones that were presented monaurally at random times within a burst of uncorrelated dichotic white noise masks. Performance was not constant but varied with delay after noise onset in an oscillatory manner at about 9 Hz (alpha rhythm). Importantly, oscillations occurred only for trials preceded by a target tone to the same ear, either on the previous trial or two trials back. These results suggest that communication of perceptual history generates neural oscillations within specific perceptual circuits, strongly implicating behavioral oscillations in predictive perception and with formation of working memory.

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Ho, H. T., Burr, D. C., Alais, D., & Morrone, M. C. (2019). Auditory Perceptual History Is Propagated through Alpha Oscillations. Current Biology, 29(24), 4208-4217.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.041

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