1. Neuroscience
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Prediction error and repetition suppression have distinct effects on neural representations of visual information

  1. Matthew F Tang  Is a corresponding author
  2. Cooper A Smout
  3. Ehsan Arabzadeh
  4. Jason B Mattingley
  1. The University of Queensland, Australia
  2. The Australian National University, Australia
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e33123 doi: 10.7554/eLife.33123


Predictive coding theories argue that recent experience establishes expectations in the brain that generate prediction errors when violated. Prediction errors provide a possible explanation for repetition suppression, where evoked neural activity is attenuated across repeated presentations of the same stimulus. The predictive coding account argues repetition suppression arises because repeated stimuli are expected, whereas non-repeated stimuli are unexpected and thus elicit larger neural responses. Here we employed electroencephalography in humans to test the predictive coding account of repetition suppression by presenting sequences of visual gratings with orientations that were expected either to repeat or change in separate blocks of trials. We applied multivariate forward modelling to determine how orientation selectivity was affected by repetition and prediction. Unexpected stimuli were associated with significantly enhanced orientation selectivity, whereas selectivity was unaffected for repeated stimuli. Our results suggest that repetition suppression and expectation have separable effects on neural representations of visual feature information.

Data availability

The EEG data have been deposited on Dryad 10.5061/dryad.3d7kq

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Matthew F Tang

    Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5858-5126
  2. Cooper A Smout

    Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Ehsan Arabzadeh

    Eccles Institute of Neuroscience, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Jason B Mattingley

    Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Australian Research Council (CE140100007)

  • Ehsan Arabzadeh
  • Jason B Mattingley

Australian Research Council (DP170100908)

  • Ehsan Arabzadeh

Australian Research Council (FL110100103)

  • Jason B Mattingley

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Human subjects: Each participant provided written informed consent prior to participation. The study was approved by The University of Queensland Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 2012000392) and was in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki

Reviewing Editor

  1. Christopher Summerfield, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 26, 2017
  2. Accepted: December 13, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 14, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: December 31, 2018 (version 2)


© 2018, Tang et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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