Poster Session A, Saturday, March 23, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Cognitive temporal map aids detection of future auditory events and modulates alpha oscillation
Xiangbin Teng1, Matthias Grabenhorst1, David Poeppel1,2; 1Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, 2New York University
The brain capitalizes on temporal regularities of the environment to predict future events. How does the brain learn the temporal structure of sensory events and generate adaptive behavior? Inspired by the concept of the ‘cognitive map’ of spatial navigation, we hypothesize that the brain forms a cognitive map along the time axis and navigates mentally in time to prepare for future events. To test this hypothesis, 16 participants were presented with 2-seconds of noise whose onset served as a temporal landmark. Participants were asked to detect a tone which could appear at one of three temporal positions relative to noise onset while undergoing electroencephalography (EEG) recording. After training, participants showed improved performance in the detection task. The amplitude modulation of alpha oscillations indicated that the participants learned a temporal map representing the three possible temporal positions - when no tone was presented in the noise, the power of alpha oscillations waned right before each temporal position. In the following session, the participants learned to associate a visual cue with each of the three temporal positions and were asked to pay attention to the cued position. We found that participants could navigate their attention in time, which was reflected in the corresponding dynamics of alpha oscillations. Our results suggest that the brain forms a cognitive map of time and mentally travels along time to aid detection of future events.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Auditory