The contribution of surprise to the prediction based modulation of fMRI responses

Catarina Amado, Petra Hermann, Petra Kovács, Mareike Grotheer, Zoltán Vidnyánszky, Gyula Kovács

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies showed that correct stimulus predictions reduce the neural responses when compared to surprising events (Egner et al., 2010). Further, it has been shown that such fulfilled expectations enhance the magnitude of repetition suppression (RS, i.e. a decreased neuronal response after the repetition of a given stimulus) in face selective visual cortex as well (Summerfield et al., 2008). Current MEG and neuroimaging studies suggest that the underlying mechanisms of expectation effects are independent from these of RS (Grotheer and Kovács, 2015; Todorovic and Lange, 2012). However, it is not clear as of today how perceptual expectations modulate the neural responses: is the difference between correctly predicted and surprising stimuli due to a genuine response reduction for correctly predicted stimuli or is it due to an increased response for surprising stimuli? Therefore, here we used a modified version of the paradigm of Grotheer and Kovács (2015) to induce predictions independently from repetition probability by presenting pairs of faces (female, male or infant) that were either repeated or alternating. Orthogonally to this, predictions were manipulated by the gender of the first face within each pair so that it signaled high, low or equal probability of repetitions. An unpredicted, neutral condition with equal probabilities for alternating and repeated trials was used to identify the role of surprising and enhancing modulations. Similarly, to Grotheer and Kovács (2015), we found significant RS and significant expectation effect in the FFA. Importantly, we observed larger response for surprising events in comparison to the neutral and correctly predicted conditions for alternating trials. Altogether, these results emphasize the role of surprise in prediction effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Expectation
  • FMRI adaptation
  • Prediction
  • Repetition suppression
  • Surprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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