The journal Nature reports that expectation of a sensory event can increase the speed and accuracy we perceive it [ link ]. “Animals are not passive spectators of the sensory world in which they live. In natural conditions they often sense objects on the bases of expectations initiated by predictive cues. Expectation profoundly modulates neural activity by altering the background state of cortical networks and modulating sensory processing”[link].

Expectations alter perception ..I know this from my own practice. Expectations amplify and channel speech perception. Listeners have to take a moment to adjust when speakers say something that defies expectation. This study shows that the same holds true for taste. In one sense experiences arrive one by one, always fresh and new, but over time they become familiar re-enactments of prior experience. For instance I like yogurt for breakfast I say it’s good and look forward to it when I get up in the morning. Good is a property I supply as something I experienced so long ago I don’t remember. It’s no longer fresh and new but an experience that my expectations enhance.

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Comment by lee william robertson on July 25, 2012 at 10:48pm

@Elliot C Brown.  Excellent article, Dr Brown!  Edifying to read.  Thanks

Comment by Elliot Clayton Brown on July 25, 2012 at 8:04pm

I thought you may also be interested in a recently published article outlining the potential for applying predictive processing or expectation to understanding and relating to others in social interactions:

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