Temporal patterns within complex sound signals, such as music, are not merely processed after they are heard. We also focus attention to upcoming points in time to aid perception, contingent upon regularities we perceive in the sounds’ inherent rhythms. Such organized predictions are endogenously maintained as meter — the patterning of sounds into hierarchical timing levels that manifest as strong and weak events. Models of neural oscillations provide potential means for how meter could arise in the brain, but little evidence of dynamic neural activity has been offered. To this end, we conducted a study instructing participants to imagine two-based or three-based metric patterns over identical, equally-spaced sounds while we recorded the electroencephalogram (EEG). In the three-based metric pattern, multivariate analysis of the EEG showed contrasting patterns of neural oscillations between strong and weak events in the delta (2–4 Hz) and alpha (9–14 Hz), frequency bands, while theta (4–9 Hz) and beta (16–24 Hz) bands contrasted two hierarchically weaker events. In two-based metric patterns, neural activity did not drastically differ between strong and weak events. We suggest the findings reflect patterns of neural activation and suppression responsible for shaping perception through time.
Gomez-RamirezM.KellyS. P.MolholmS.SehatpourP.SchwartzT. H. &FoxeJ. J. (2011). Oscillatory sensory selection mechanisms during intersensory attention to rhythmic auditory and visual inputs: A human electro-corticographic investigation. J. Neurosci.3118556–18567.