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Perceiving patterns in random series: dynamic processing of sequence in prefrontal cortex

Nature Neuroscience volume 5, pages 485490 (2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

We demonstrate that regions within human prefrontal cortex develop moment-to-moment models for patterns of events occurring in the sensory environment. Subjects viewed a random binary sequence of images, each presented singly and each requiring a different button press response. Patterns occurred by chance within the presented series of images. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we identified activity evoked by viewing a stimulus that interrupted a pattern. Prefrontal activation was evoked by violations of both repeating and alternating patterns, and the amplitude of this activation increased with increasing pattern length. Violations of repeating patterns, but not of alternating patterns, activated the basal ganglia.

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Acknowledgements

We thank C. Michelich, J. Voyvodic and J. Wu for assistance in data visualization and programming, and G. Lockhead, G. Mangun and D. Purves for comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by the US Department of Veterans' Affairs, by National Institute of Mental Health grants MH-05286 and MH-12541, and by National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant NS-41328. G. M. is a Department of Veterans' Affairs Research Career Scientist.

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  1. Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, Box 3918, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA

    • Scott A. Huettel
    • , Peter B. Mack
    •  & Gregory McCarthy

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Gregory McCarthy.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn841

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