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I have seen that before: Pattern completion in the human visual system and its role for memory


The visual system is an anticipatory system. For example, in order to hit a tennis ball during a match, parts of the brain calculate the future trajectory of the tennis ball based on its past travel through the air to enable you to hit the ball. A recent study by Ekman et al. (2017) demonstrated how the visual system anticipates a ball’s trajectory in such a scenario. In their functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, they found temporally compressed pattern completion in primary visual cortex for a previously learned rapid stimulus sequence (simulating a moving dot) following the presentation of only the very first stimulus. This visual preplay activity reflects an anticipation of the future trajectory of a moving object based on previous experience, thereby intersecting vision and memory. Interestingly, the mechanism of pattern completion plays a big role in the reinstatement of memory traces in classical memory experiments. Whether the visual preplay effect is similar to the pattern completion in memory reinstatement, and whether the memory replay effect might be guided by visual preplay is currently unknown.
The proposed project will provide a better understanding of the nature of the visual preplay effect and its relation to memory. It will investigate the neural oscillations induced by the visual preplay effect together with its temporal unfolding, providing insight into information processing and communication between brain areas. It will also examine a possible link between this visual effect and memory by embedding the preplay experiment into a memory paradigm. The combination of magnetoencephalography (MEG) and fMRI methods together with state-of-the-art signal processing and machine learning will enable a comprehensive investigation of this effect at the boundary between vision and memory, thereby advancing our understanding of both the visual and memory system and, in particular, their interplay.

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Houtlaan 4
6525 XZ Nijmegen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 175 572,48