Ranieri, G., Benedetto, A., Ho, H. T., Burr, D. C., & Morrone, M. C.

Evidence of Serial Dependence from Decoding of Visual Evoked Potentials

Journal of Neuroscience, 42(47), 8817–8825

https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1879-21.2022 Download

It is well known that recent sensory experience influences perception, recently demonstrated by a phenomenon termed “serial dependence.” However, its underlying neural mechanisms are poorly understood. We measured ERP responses to pairs of stimuli presented randomly to the left or right hemifield. Seventeen male and female adults judged whether the upper or lower half of the grating had higher spatial frequency, independent of the horizontal position of the grating. This design allowed us to trace the memory signal modulating task performance and also the implicit memory signal associated with hemispheric position. Using classification techniques, we decoded the position of the current and previous stimuli and the response from voltage scalp distributions of the current trial. Classification of previous responses reached full significance only 700 ms after presentation of the current stimulus, consistent with retrieval of an activity-silent memory trace. Cross-condition classification accuracy of past responses (trained on current responses) correlated with the strength of serial dependence effects of individual participants. Overall, our data provide evidence for a silent memory signal that can be decoded from the EEG potential, which interacts with the neural processing of the current stimulus. This silent memory signal could be the physiological substrate subserving at least one type of serial dependence. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The neurophysiological underpinnings of how past perceptual experience affects current perception are poorly understood. Here, we show that recent experience is reactivated when a new stimulus is presented and that the strength of this reactivation correlates with serial biases in individual participants, suggesting that serial dependence is established on the basis of a silent memory signal.