Prediction error processing and sharpening of expected information across the face-processing hierarchy

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The perception and neural processing of sensory information are strongly influenced by prior expectations. The integration of prior and sensory information can manifest through distinct underlying mechanisms: focusing on unexpected input, denoted as prediction error (PE) processing, or amplifying anticipated information via sharpened representation. In this study, we employed computational modeling using deep neural networks combined with representational similarity analyses of fMRI data to investigate these two processes during face perception. Participants were cued to see face images, some generated by morphing two faces, leading to ambiguity in face identity. We show that expected faces were identified faster and perception of ambiguous faces was shifted towards priors. Multivariate analyses uncovered evidence for PE processing across and beyond the face-processing hierarchy from the occipital face area (OFA), via the fusiform face area, to the anterior temporal lobe, and suggest sharpened representations in the OFA. Our findings support the proposition that the brain represents faces grounded in prior expectations.

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22.04.2024

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© 2024. The Author(s).

PubMed 38649694