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    Updating perceptual expectations as certainty diminishes

    Thomas, Emily and Rittershofer, Kirsten and Press, Clare (2023) Updating perceptual expectations as certainty diminishes. Cognition 232 (105356), ISSN 0010-0277.

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    Forming expectations about what we are likely to perceive often facilitates perception. We forge such expectations on the basis of strong statistical relationships between events in our environment. However, due to our ever-changing world these relationships often subsequently degrade or even disappear, yet it is unclear how these altered statistics influence perceptual expectations. We examined this question across two studies by training participants in perfect relationships between actions (index or little finger abductions) and outcomes (clockwise or counter-clockwise gratings), before degrading the predictive relationship in a test phase – such that ‘expected’ events followed actions on 50-75% of trials and ‘unexpected’ events ensued on the remainder. Perceptual decisions about outcomes were faster and less error prone on expected than unexpected trials when predictive relationships remained high and reduced as the relationship diminished. Drift diffusion modelling indicated that these effects are explained by shifting the starting point in the evidence accumulation process as well as biasing the rate of evidence accumulation – with the former reflecting biases from statistics within the training session and the latter those of the test session. These findings demonstrate how perceptual expectations are updated as statistical certainty diminishes, with interacting influences speculatively dependent upon learning consolidation. We discuss how underlying mechanisms optimise the interaction between learning and perception – allowing our experiences to reflect a nuanced, ever-changing environment.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): prediction, expectation, uncertainty, perception, DDM
    School: School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Neuroimaging, Birkbeck-UCL Centre for (BUCNI)
    Depositing User: Clare Press
    Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2022 12:55
    Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 17:56


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