Modality-specific sensory readiness for upcoming events revealed by slow cortical potentials

V. Bianco, R. L. Perri, M. Berchicci, F. Quinzi, D. Spinelli, F. Di Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human brain activity allows to anticipate future events and to prepare the next action accordingly; consistently, event-related potential (ERP) studies found action preparatory brain activities in the premotor and prefrontal cortex. In the present study, we investigated the preparatory activity in the sensory cortical regions. Slow cortical potentials were recorded during passive tasks, i.e., subjects expected for a sensory stimulus and no motor or cognitive response were required. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that perceptual anticipatory cortical mechanisms were modality specific. Three groups of 21 young adults underwent passive perceptual tasks in different sensory modalities (visual, auditory, or somatosensory). We confirmed the presence of a visual negativity (vN) component for the visual modality starting about 800 ms before stimulus with source in extrastriate areas and we found novel modality-specific sensory readiness components for the auditory and somatosensory modalities. The auditory positivity (aP) started about 800 ms before stimulus with source in bilateral auditory cortices and the somatosensory negativity (sN) started about 500 ms before stimulus with source in the somatosensory secondary cortex, contralateral to the stimulated hand. The scalp topography and intracranial sources of these three slow preparatory activities were mirrored with inverted polarity at early post-stimulus stage evoking the well-known visual P1, auditory N1, and somatosensory P100 components. Present findings contribute to widening the family of slow wave preparatory components, providing evidence about the relationship between top–down and bottom–up processing in sensory perception.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Perception
  • Perceptual inference
  • Prediction
  • Predictive coding
  • Sensory anticipation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


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