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Journal Article

Predicting affective information: An evaluation of repetition suppression effects


Kotz,  Sonja A.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, the Netherlands;

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Trapp, S., & Kotz, S. A. (2016). Predicting affective information: An evaluation of repetition suppression effects. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 1365. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01365.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-A547-D
Both theoretical proposals and empirical studies suggest that the brain interprets sensory input based on expectations to mitigate computational burden. However, as social beings, much of sensory input is affectively loaded – e.g., the smile of a partner, the critical voice of a boss, or the welcoming gesture of a friend. Given that affective information is highly complex and often ambiguous, building up expectations of upcoming affective sensory input may greatly contribute to its rapid and efficient processing. This review points to the role of affective information in the context of the ‘predictive brain’. It particularly focuses on repetition suppression (RS) effects that have recently been linked to prediction processes. The findings are interpreted as evidence for more pronounced prediction processes with affective material. Importantly, it is argued that bottom-up attention inflates the neural RS effect, and because affective stimuli tend to attract more bottom-up attention, it thereby particularly overshadows the magnitude of RS effects for this information. Finally, anxiety disorders, such as social phobia, are briefly discussed as manifestations of modulations in affective prediction.