Sensory attenuation is modulated by the contrasting effects of predictability and control

Anthony W. Harrison*, Damien J. Mannion, Bradley N. Jack, Oren Griffiths, Gethin Hughes, Thomas J. Whitford

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Self-generated stimuli have been found to elicit a reduced sensory response compared with externally-generated stimuli. However, much of the literature has not adequately controlled for differences in the temporal predictability and temporal control of stimuli. In two experiments, we compared the N1 (and P2) components of the auditory-evoked potential to self- and externally-generated tones that differed with respect to these two factors. In Experiment 1 (n = 42), we found that increasing temporal predictability reduced N1 amplitude in a manner that may often account for the observed reduction in sensory response to self-generated sounds. We also observed that reducing temporal control over the tones resulted in a reduction in N1 amplitude. The contrasting effects of temporal predictability and temporal control on N1 amplitude meant that sensory attenuation prevailed when controlling for each. Experiment 2 (n = 38) explored the potential effect of selective attention on the results of Experiment 1 by modifying task requirements such that similar levels of attention were allocated to the visual stimuli across conditions. The results of Experiment 2 replicated those of Experiment 1, and suggested that the observed effects of temporal control and sensory attenuation were not driven by differences in attention. Given that self- and externally-generated sensations commonly differ with respect to both temporal predictability and temporal control, findings of the present study may necessitate a re-evaluation of the experimental paradigms used to study sensory attenuation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number118103
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2021


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