Neuronal Substrates of Temporal Prediction in Active Sensing

Charles Schroeder (May 9, 2013)

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Neuronal oscillations reflecting synchronous, rhythmic fluctuation of neuron ensembles between high and low excitability states, dominate ambient activity in the sensory pathways. Because excitability determines the probability that neurons will respond to input, a top-down process like attention can use oscillations as "instruments" to amplify or suppress the brain's representation of external events. That is, by tuning the frequency and phase of its rhythms to those of behaviorally and/or cognitively-relevant event streams, the brain can use its rhythms to parse event streams and to form internal representations of them. In doing this, the brain is making temporal predictions. I will discuss findings from parallel experiments in humans and non-human primates that outline specific structural and functional components of this temporal prediction mechanism. I will also discuss its possible generalization across temporal scales. Finally, I will discuss motor system contributions to sensory systems' dynamics.