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Friedrich, Elisabeth V.C.; Zillekens, Imme C.; Biel, Anna Lena; O'Leary, Dariusz; Seegenschmiedt, Eva Victoria; Singer, Johannes; Schilbach, Leonhard; Sauseng, Paul (2022): Seeing a Bayesian ghost: Sensorimotor activation leads to an illusory social perception. iScience, 25. p. 104068. ISSN 25890042

[thumbnail of Friedrichetal_2022.pdf] Published Article

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Based on our prior experiences we form social expectations and anticipate another person’s response. Under certain conditions, these expectations can be so strong that they lead to illusory perception of another person who is actually not there (i.e., seeing a Bayesian ghost). We used EEG to investigate the neural correlates of such illusory social perception. Our results showed that activation of the premotor cortex predicted the occurrence of the Bayesian ghost, whereas its actual appearance was later accompanied by activation in sensorimotor and adjacent parietal regions. These findings confirm that our perception of others is so strongly affected by prior expectations, in such a way they can prompt illusory social perceptions associated with activity change in brain regions relevant for action perception. They also contribute to a better understanding of social interaction in healthy individuals as well as persons with mental illnesses, which can be characterized by illusory perception and social interaction difficulties.

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