Neural mechanisms underlying expectation-dependent inhibition of distracting information
Predictions based on learned statistical regularities in the visual worldhave been shown to facilitate attention and goal-directed behavior by sharpening the sensory representation of goal-relevant stimuli in advance. Yet, how the brain learns to ignore predictable goal-irrelevant or distracting information is unclear.Here, we used EEG anda visual search task in which the predictability of a distractor’s location and/or spatial frequency was manipulated to determine how spatial and feature distractor expectations are neurally implemented and reduce distractor interference. We find that expected distractor features could not only be decoded pre-stimulus, but their representation differed from the representation of that same feature when part of the target. Spatial distractor expectations did not induce changes in preparatory neural activity, but a strongly reduced Pd, an ERP index of inhibition. These results demonstrate that neural effects of statistical learning critically depend on the task relevance and dimension (spatial, feature) of predictions
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Article and author information
H2020 European Research Council (679399)
- Heleen A Slagter
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The ethical committee of the Department of Psychology of the University of Amsterdam approved the study (2018-BC-9051), which was conformed to the Declaration of Helsinki.
- Joy Geng
- Received: July 14, 2020
- Accepted: December 14, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: December 15, 2020 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: December 23, 2020 (version 2)
© 2020, van Moorselaar 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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