Dissociation of formal and temporal predictability in early auditory evoked potentials

Michael Schwartze, Nicolas Farrugia, Sonja A. Kotz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Perceived regularity among events in the environment allows predictions regarding the "when" and the "what" dimensions of future events. In this context, one crucial question concerns the impact and the potentially optimizing effect, of regular temporal structure on the processing of "what", or formal, information. The current study addresses this issue by investigating whether temporal and formal structure interact during early stages of sensory processing, and by relating the respective findings to the concept of a predictive bias in brain function. Analyses were performed on two components of the auditory event-related-potential of the electroencephalogram, namely the P50 and the N100. Oddball sequences consisting of frequent standard and infrequent deviant sinusoidal tones were presented with either regular or irregular temporal structure in pre-attentive and attentive experimental settings (Schwartze, Rothermich, Schmidt-Kassow, & Kotz, 2011). Temporal regularity effects on pre-attentive and attentive processing of deviance. Biological Psychology, 87, 146-151). The results confirm that the P50 and the N100 amplitudes reliably encode formal and temporal predictability. Similar patterns of results obtained with pre-attentive and attentive task instructions, as well as the absence of a significant interaction of formal and temporal structure suggest that the P50 response may be interpreted as an automatic marker of predictability, whereas the N100 may represent a more complex marker, in which formal and temporal structure start interacting as a function of attention. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)320-325
    Number of pages5
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • Attention
    • ERP
    • Formal structure
    • Prediction
    • Suppression
    • Temporal structure


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