Beyond Infant’s Looking: The Neural Basis for Infant Prediction Errors

Andrea Berger, Michael I. Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Contemporary conceptualizations on infant cognitive development focus on predictive processes; the basic idea is that the brain continuously creates predictions about what is expected and that the divergence between predicted and actual perceived data yields a prediction error. This prediction error updates the model from which the predictions are generated and therefore is a basic mechanism for learning and adaptation to the dynamics of the ever-changing environment. In this article, we review the types of available empirical evidence supporting the idea that predictive processes can be found in infancy, especially emphasizing the contribution of electrophysiology as a potential method for testing the similarity of the brain mechanisms for processing prediction errors in infants to those of adults. In infants, as with older children, adolescents, and adults, predictions involve synchronization bursts of middle-central theta reflecting brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex. We discuss how early in development such brain mechanisms develop and open questions that still remain to be empirically investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)664-674
Number of pages11
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


  • brain development
  • cognitive development
  • event-related-potentials
  • infancy
  • prediction errors
  • theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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