The theory of predictive processing posits that the nervous system uses expectations to process information predictively. Direct empirical evidence in support of this theory however has been scarce and largely limited to sensory areas. Here, we report a precise and adaptive neural mechanism in the frontal cortex of non-human primates consistent with predictive processing of temporal events. We found that the speed at which neural states evolve over time is inversely proportional to the statistical mean of the temporal distribution of an expected stimulus. This lawful relationship was evident across multiple experiments and held true during learning: when temporal statistics underwent covert changes, neural responses underwent predictable changes that reflected the new mean. Together, these results highlight a precise mathematical relationship between temporal statistics in the environment and neural activity in the frontal cortex that could serve as a mechanistic foundation for predictive temporal processing.
Catherine note: manually added this one and put in a previously published link