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Neural repetition suppression reflects fulfilled perceptual expectations


Stimulus-evoked neural activity is attenuated on stimulus repetition (repetition suppression), a phenomenon that is attributed to largely automatic processes in sensory neurons. By manipulating the likelihood of stimulus repetition, we found that repetition suppression in the human brain was reduced when stimulus repetitions were improbable (and thus, unexpected). Our data suggest that repetition suppression reflects a relative reduction in top-down perceptual 'prediction error' when processing an expected, compared with an unexpected, stimulus.

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Figure 1: Main experiment: protocol and results.
Figure 2: Control experiment protocol and results.


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We are grateful to E. Koechlin and S. Kouider for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported in part by a grant from the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS30863, M.-M.M.).

Author information




C.S., T.E., E.H.T. and M.-M.M. conceived of the experiment, C.S. and T.E. designed the experiment, T.E., E.H.T. and J.M.M. collected the data, T.E. analyzed the data and C.S. and T.E. wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tobias Egner.

Supplementary information

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Supplementary Figures 1 and 2, Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 337 kb)

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Summerfield, C., Trittschuh, E., Monti, J. et al. Neural repetition suppression reflects fulfilled perceptual expectations. Nat Neurosci 11, 1004–1006 (2008).

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