Purpose-dependent consequences of temporal expectations serving perception and action

Freek van Ede*, Gustavo Rohenkohl, Ian Gould, Anna C. Nobre

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Temporal expectations enable anticipatory brain states that prepare us for upcoming perception and action. We investigated the purpose-dependent nature and consequences of cued temporal expectations on brain and behavior in male and female human volunteers, using two matched visual-motor tasks that stressed either response speed or visual accuracy. We show that the consequences of temporal expectations are fundamentally purpose dependent. Temporal expectations predominantly affected response times when visual demands were low and speed was more important, but perceptual accuracy when visual demands were more challenging. Using magnetoencephalography, we further show how temporal expectations latch onto anticipatory neural states associated with concurrent spatial expectations—modulating task-specific anticipatory neural lateralization of oscillatory brain activity in a modality- and frequency-specific manner. By relating these brain states to behavior, we finally reveal how the behavioral relevance of such anticipatory brain states is similarly purpose dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7877-7886
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


  • Alpha oscillations
  • Attention
  • Behavioral performance
  • Beta oscillations
  • Task-dependent
  • Temporal expectation


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