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Poster E131

Expectation modifies the representational fidelity of complex visual objects

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Margaret Jane Moore1 (, Amanda Robinson1, Jason B. Mattingley1; 1University of Queensland

Prediction has been shown to play a fundamental role in facilitating efficient perception of simple visual features such as orientation and motion, but it remains unclear whether expectations modulate neural representations of more complex stimuli. Here, we addressed this issue by characterising patterns of brain activity evoked by two-dimensional images of familiar, real-world objects which were either expected or unexpected based on a preceding cue. Participants (n=30) viewed stimuli in rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) streams which contained both high-fidelity and degraded (diffeomorphically warped) object images. Multivariate pattern analyses of electroencephalography (EEG) data were used to quantify and compare the degree of information represented in neural activity when stimuli were random (unpredictable), expected, or unexpected. Degraded images elicited reduced representational fidelity relative to high-fidelity images. However, degraded images were represented with improved fidelity when they were presented in expected relative to random sequence positions; and stimuli in unexpected sequence positions yielded reduced representational fidelity relative to random presentations. Most notably, neural responses to unexpected stimuli contained information pertaining to the expected (but not presented) stimulus. Debriefing at the conclusion of the experiment revealed that participants were not aware of the relationship between cue and target stimuli within the RSVP streams, suggesting that the differences in stimulus decoding between conditions arose in the absence of explicit predictive knowledge. Our findings extend fundamental understanding of how the brain detects and employs predictive relationships to modulate high-level visual perception.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision


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April 13–16  |  2024