Brain Topography

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 169–193 | Cite as

Brain Electrical Activity Evoked by Mental Formation of Auditory Expectations and Images

  • Petr Janata


Evidence for the brain's derivation of explicit expectancies in an ongoing sensory context has been well established by studies of the P300 and processing negativity (PN) components of the event-related potential (ERP). “Emitted potentials” generated in the absence of sensory input by unexpected stimulus omissions also exhibit a P300 component and provide another perspective on patterns of brain activity related to the processing of expectancies. The studies described herein extend earlier emitted potential findings in several aspects. First, high-density (128-channel) EEG recordings are used for topographical mapping of emitted potentials. Second, the primary focus is on emitted potential components preceding the P300, i.e. those components that are more likely to resemble ERP components associated with sensory processing. Third, the dependence of emitted potentials on attention is assessed. Fourth, subjects' knowledge of the structure of an auditory stimulus sequence is modulated so that emitted potentials can be compared between conditions that are identical in physical aspects but differ in terms of subjects' expectations regarding the sequence structure. Finally, a novel task is used to elicit emitted potentials, in which subjects explicitly imagine the continuations of simple melodies. In this task, subjects mentally complete melodic fragments in the appropriate tempo, even though they know with absolute certainty that no sensory stimulus will occur. Emitted potentials were elicited only when subjects actively formed expectations or images. The topographies of the initial portion of the emitted potentials were significantly correlated with the N100 topography elicited by corresponding acoustic stimuli, but uncorrelated with the topographies of corresponding silence control periods.

Emitted potential Imagery ERP N100 High-density EEG Superior temporal gyrus 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petr Janata
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Neuroscience,University of Oregon,Eugene,USA

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