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Visual predictions, neural oscillations and naïve physics

Saurels, B. W., Hohaia, W., Yarrow, K. ORCID: 0000-0003-0666-2163 , Johnston, A. & Arnold, D. H. (2021). Visual predictions, neural oscillations and naïve physics. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 16127. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-95295-x


Prediction is a core function of the human visual system. Contemporary research suggests the brain builds predictive internal models of the world to facilitate interactions with our dynamic environment. Here, we wanted to examine the behavioural and neurological consequences of disrupting a core property of peoples' internal models, using naturalistic stimuli. We had people view videos of basketball and asked them to track the moving ball and predict jump shot outcomes, all while we recorded eye movements and brain activity. To disrupt people's predictive internal models, we inverted footage on half the trials, so dynamics were inconsistent with how movements should be shaped by gravity. When viewing upright videos people were better at predicting shot outcomes, at tracking the ball position, and they had enhanced alpha-band oscillatory activity in occipital brain regions. The advantage for predicting upright shot outcomes scaled with improvements in ball tracking and occipital alpha-band activity. Occipital alpha-band activity has been linked to selective attention and spatially-mapped inhibitions of visual brain activity. We propose that when people have a more accurate predictive model of the environment, they can more easily parse what is relevant, allowing them to better target irrelevant positions for suppression-resulting in both better predictive performance and in neural markers of inhibited information processing.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been published in Scientific Reports, DOI: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Sensory processing, Visual system
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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