Cortical speech tracking is related to individual prediction tendencies

Juliane Schubert*, Fabian Schmidt, Quirin Gehmacher, Annika Bresgen, Nathan Weisz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Listening can be conceptualized as a process of active inference, in which the brain forms internal models to integrate auditory information in a complex interaction of bottom-up and top-down processes. We propose that individuals vary in their “prediction tendency” and that this variation contributes to experiential differences in everyday listening situations and shapes the cortical processing of acoustic input such as speech. Here, we presented tone sequences of varying entropy level, to independently quantify auditory prediction tendency (as the tendency to anticipate low-level acoustic features) for each individual. This measure was then used to predict cortical speech tracking in a multi speaker listening task, where participants listened to audiobooks narrated by a target speaker in isolation or interfered by 1 or 2 distractors. Furthermore, semantic violations were introduced into the story, to also examine effects of word surprisal during speech processing. Our results show that cortical speech tracking is related to prediction tendency. In addition, we find interactions between prediction tendency and background noise as well as word surprisal in disparate brain regions. Our findings suggest that individual prediction tendencies are generalizable across different listening situations and may serve as a valuable element to explain interindividual differences in natural listening situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6608-6619
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
J.S. and Q.G. are supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF; Doctoral College “Imaging the Mind”; W 1233-B). Q.G. is also supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG; BRIDGE 1 project “SmartCIs”; 871232) and F.S. is supported by WS Audiology.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • auditory processing
  • cortical speech tracking
  • interindividual differences
  • magnetoencephalography
  • predictive processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Cortical speech tracking is related to individual prediction tendencies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this