Prior expectations evoke stimulus-specific activity in the deep layers of the primary visual cortex.
Aitken F., Menelaou G., Warrington O., Koolschijn RS., Corbin N., Callaghan MF., Kok P.
The way we perceive the world is strongly influenced by our expectations. In line with this, much recent research has revealed that prior expectations strongly modulate sensory processing. However, the neural circuitry through which the brain integrates external sensory inputs with internal expectation signals remains unknown. In order to understand the computational architecture of the cortex, we need to investigate the way these signals flow through the cortical layers. This is crucial because the different cortical layers have distinct intra- and interregional connectivity patterns, and therefore determining which layers are involved in a cortical computation can inform us on the sources and targets of these signals. Here, we used ultra-high field (7T) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to reveal that prior expectations evoke stimulus-specific activity selectively in the deep layers of the primary visual cortex (V1). These findings are in line with predictive processing theories proposing that neurons in the deep cortical layers represent perceptual hypotheses and thereby shed light on the computational architecture of cortex.