Beta- and gamma-band activity reflect predictive coding in the processing of causal events

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In daily life, complex events are perceived in a causal manner, suggesting that the brain relies on predictive processes to model them. Within predictive coding theory, oscillatory beta-band activity has been linked to top-down predictive signals and gamma-band activity to bottom-up prediction errors. However, neurocognitive evidence for predictive coding outside lower-level sensory areas is scarce. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate neural activity during probability-dependent action perception in three areas pivotal for causal inference, superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex, using bowling action animations. Within this network, Granger-causal connectivity in the beta-band was found to be strongest for backward top-down connections and gamma for feed-forward bottom-up connections. Moreover, beta-band power in TPJ increased parametrically with the predictability of the action kinematics-outcome sequences. Conversely, gamma-band power in TPJ and MPFC increased with prediction error. These findings suggest that the brain utilizes predictive-coding-like computations for higher-order cognition such as perception of causal events.

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