Due to the delays inherent in neuronal transmission, our awareness of sensory events necessarily lags behind the occurrence of those events in the world. If the visual system did not compensate for these delays, we would consistently mislocalize moving objects behind their actual position. Anticipatory mechanisms that might compensate for these delays have been reported in animals, and such mechanisms have also been hypothesized to underlie perceptual effects in humans such as the Flash-Lag Effect. However, to date no direct physiological evidence for anticipatory mechanisms has been found in humans. Here, we apply multivariate pattern classification to time-resolved EEG data to investigate anticipatory coding of object position in humans. By comparing the time-course of neural position representation for objects in both random and predictable apparent motion, we isolated anticipatory mechanisms that could compensate for neural delays when motion trajectories were predictable. As well as revealing an early neural position representation (lag 80–90 ms) that was unaffected by the predictability of the object's trajectory, we demonstrate a second neural position representation at 140–150 ms that was distinct from the first, and that was pre-activated ahead of the moving object when it moved on a predictable trajectory. The latency advantage for predictable motion was approximately 16 ± 2 ms. To our knowledge, this provides the first direct experimental neurophysiological evidence of anticipatory coding in human vision, revealing the time-course of predictive mechanisms without using a spatial proxy for time. The results are numerically consistent with earlier animal work, and suggest that current models of spatial predictive coding in visual cortex can be effectively extended into the temporal domain.
Neuroimage – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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