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Time-based expectations entail preparatory motor activity

By Gregor Volberg and Roland Thomaschke


Human behavior is guided by expectations that facilitate perception of upcoming events or reaction to them. In natural settings expectations are often implicitly based on time, e.g., when making a phone call one would expect to hear either a person answering (earlier) or a voicemail greeting (later). We investigated how time-based expectations can improve performance in the absence of explicit prior information on the pending stimulus or the associated response. Visual stimuli were presented after a characteristic short or long foreperiod, and a forced-choice categorization using either the left or the right hand was required. The electroencephalogram (EEG) revealed a decrease in central 9-12 Hz power over the course of the trial. Moreover, lateralized pre-motor potentials were observed which changed polarity after the short foreperiod. At stimulus onset, amplitudes of pre-motor potentials co-varied with performance, so that higher (more negative) amplitudes were associated with slower responses to unexpected targets. Altogether, the results suggest that implicit time-based expectations entail effector-specific preparatory brain activity, which is inhibited until the expected onset time of the event. Thus, time-based expectations prepare for action. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Topics: 150 Psychologie, ddc:150
Publisher: 'Elsevier BV'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.04.019
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