Cardio-audio synchronization drives neural surprise response


Successful prediction of future events depends on the brain’s capacity to extract temporal regularities from sensory inputs. Neuroimaging studies mainly investigated regularity processing for exteroceptive sensory inputs (i.e. from outside the body). Here we investigated whether interoceptive signals (i.e. from inside the body) can mediate auditory regularity processing. Human participants passively listened to sound sequences presented in synchrony or asynchrony to their heartbeat while concomitant electroencephalography was recorded. We hypothesized that the cardio-audio synchronicity would induce a brain expectation of future sounds. Electrical neuroimaging analysis revealed a surprise response at 158-270 ms upon omission of the expected sounds in the synchronous condition only. Control analyses ruled out that this effect was trivially based on expectation from the auditory temporal structure or on differences in heartbeat physiological signals. Implicit neural monitoring of temporal regularities across interoceptive and exteroceptive signals drives prediction of future events in auditory sequences.

Scientific Reports