The effect of prior knowledge and expectations on perceptual and decision-making processes have been extensively studied. Yet, the computational mechanisms underlying those effects have been a controversial issue. Recently, using a recursive Bayesian updating scheme, unmet expectations have been shown to entail further computations, and consequently delay perceptual processes. Here we take a step further and model these empirical findings with a recurrent cortical model, which was previously suggested to approximate Bayesian inference (Heeger, 2017). Our model fitting results show that the cortical model can successfully predict the behavioral effects of expectation. That is, when the actual sensory input does not match with the expectations, the sensory process needs to be completed with additional, and consequently longer, computations. We suggest that this process underlies the delay in perceptual thresholds in unmet expectations. Overall our findings demonstrate that a parsimonious recurrent cortical model can explain the effects of expectation on sensory processes.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience