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Prefrontal Cortex Activation Reflects Efficient Exploitation of Higher-order Statistical Structure

Ahlheim, C; Schiffer, A-M; Schubotz, RI; (2016) Prefrontal Cortex Activation Reflects Efficient Exploitation of Higher-order Statistical Structure. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 28 (12) pp. 1909-1922. 10.1162/jocn_a_01005. Green open access

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Abstract

Because everyday actions are statistically structured, knowing which action a person has just completed allows predicting the most likely next action step. Taking even more than the preceding action into account improves this predictability but also causes higher processing costs. Using fMRI, we investigated whether observers exploit second-order statistical regularities preferentially if information on possible upcoming actions provided by first-order regularities is insufficient. We hypothesized that anterior pFC balances whether or not second-order information should be exploited. Participants watched videos of actions that were structured by first- and second-order conditional probabilities. Information provided by the first and by the second order was manipulated independently. BOLD activity in the action observation network was more attenuated the more information on upcoming actions was provided by first-order structure, reflecting expectation suppression for more predictable actions. Activation in posterior parietal sites decreased further with second-order information but increased in temporal areas. As expected, second-order information was integrated more when less first-order information was provided, and this interaction was mediated by anterior pFC (BA 10). Observers spontaneously used both the present and the preceding action to predict the upcoming action, and integration of the preceding action was enhanced when the present action was uninformative.

Type: Article
Title: Prefrontal Cortex Activation Reflects Efficient Exploitation of Higher-order Statistical Structure
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_01005
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01005
Language: English
Additional information: This is the published version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1528985
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