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Kaiser, Jakob; Schütz-Bosbach, Simone (2018): Sensory attenuation of self-produced signals does not rely on self-specific motor predictions. In: European Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 47, No. 11: pp. 1303-1310
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Abstract

Sensory events produced by ourselves are known to lead to lower neural and perceptual impact than sensory events from other environmental sources. This sensory attenuation is widely assumed to result from control processes that are specific to our own motor actions, potentially helping us to distinguish effects produced by ourselves and others. However, previous research cannot rule out that the putative self-attenuation in fact reflect actor-independent, general predictive mechanisms, which, in direct comparison, just highlight external events due to lower predictability of their onset and thus higher surprise. By measuring the auditory-evoked N1 component, we show that self-generation of sounds only lead to cortical attenuation when the onset of other-generated sounds is less predictable due to the absence of any predictive cues. The presence of a cue predicting the onset of auditory stimuli, in contrast, led to a reversal of the attenuation effect, with lower N1 amplitudes for other-generated sounds in contrast to self-generated sounds. Thus, contrary to prevalent assumptions sensory attenuation is not bound to self-generation per se. Rather, it appears to be the result of general mechanisms that does not reliably and selectively attenuate self-induced stimulation but is determined by a flexible processing of sensory input based on its predictability, contextual relevance and attentional salience.