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The role of premature evidence accumulation in making difficult perceptual decisions under temporal uncertainty.


ABSTRACT: The computations and neural processes underpinning decision making have primarily been investigated using highly simplified tasks in which stimulus onsets cue observers to start accumulating choice-relevant information. Yet, in daily life we are rarely afforded the luxury of knowing precisely when choice-relevant information will appear. Here, we examined neural indices of decision formation while subjects discriminated subtle stimulus feature changes whose timing relative to stimulus onset ('foreperiod') was uncertain. Joint analysis of behavioural error patterns and neural decision signal dynamics indicated that subjects systematically began the accumulation process before any informative evidence was presented, and further, that accumulation onset timing varied systematically as a function of the foreperiod of the preceding trial. These results suggest that the brain can adjust to temporal uncertainty by strategically modulating accumulation onset timing according to statistical regularities in the temporal structure of the sensory environment with particular emphasis on recent experience.

SUBMITTER: Devine CA 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6904213 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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