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Journal Article

Rhythmic temporal expectation boosts neural activity by increasing neural gain


Auksztulewicz,  Ryszard
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Department of Biomedical Sciences, City University of Hong Kong;
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford;

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Auksztulewicz, R., Myers, N. E., Schnupp, J. W., & Nobre, A. C. (2019). Rhythmic temporal expectation boosts neural activity by increasing neural gain. The Journal of Neuroscience, 39(49), 9806-9817. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0925-19.2019.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-6E28-4
Temporal orienting improves sensory processing, akin to other top–down biases. However, it is unknown whether these improvements reflect increased neural gain to any stimuli presented at expected time points, or specific tuning to task-relevant stimulus aspects. Furthermore, while other top–down biases are selective, the extent of trade-offs across time is less well characterized. Here, we tested whether gain and/or tuning of auditory frequency processing in humans is modulated by rhythmic temporal expectations, and whether these modulations are specific to time points relevant for task performance. Healthy participants (N = 23) of either sex performed an auditory discrimination task while their brain activity was measured using magnetoencephalography/electroencephalography (M/EEG). Acoustic stimulation consisted of sequences of brief distractors interspersed with targets, presented in a rhythmic or jittered way. Target rhythmicity not only improved behavioral discrimination accuracy and M/EEG-based decoding of targets, but also of irrelevant distractors preceding these targets. To explain this finding in terms of increased sensitivity and/or sharpened tuning to auditory frequency, we estimated tuning curves based on M/EEG decoding results, with separate parameters describing gain and sharpness. The effect of rhythmic expectation on distractor decoding was linked to gain increase only, suggesting increased neural sensitivity to any stimuli presented at relevant time points.