Delta-beta coupled oscillations underlie temporal prediction accuracy

Luc H. Arnal, Keith B. Doelling, David Poeppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to generate temporal predictions is fundamental for adaptive behavior. Precise timing at the time-scale of seconds is critical, for instance to predict trajectories or to select relevant information. What mechanisms form the basis for such accurate timing? Recent evidence suggests that (1) temporal predictions adjust sensory selection by controlling neural oscillations in time and (2) the motor system plays an active role in inferring "when" events will happen. We hypothesized that oscillations in the delta and beta bands are instrumental in predicting the occurrence of auditory targets. Participants listened to brief rhythmic tone sequences and detected target delays while undergoing magnetoencephalography recording. Prior to target occurrence, we found that coupled delta (1-3 Hz) and beta (18-22 Hz) oscillations temporally align with upcoming targets and bias decisions towards correct responses, suggesting that deltabeta coupled oscillations underpin prediction accuracy. Subsequent to target occurrence, subjects update their decisions using the magnitude of the alpha-band (10-14 Hz) response as internal evidence of target timing. These data support a model in which the orchestration of oscillatory dynamics between sensory and motor systems is exploited to accurately select sensory information in time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3077-3085
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Auditory
  • Motor
  • Neuronal oscillations
  • Sensorimotor
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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