Panagiota Theodoni, Gyula Kovacs, Mark W. Greenlee, and Gustavo Deco
The Journal of Neuroscience, January 5, 2011, 31(1):234-246
Recently, there has been an increased interest on the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual decision making. However, the effect of neuronal adaptation in this context has not yet been studied. We begin our study by investigating how adaptation can bias perceptual decisions. We considered behavioral data from an experiment on high-level adaptation-related aftereffects in a perceptual decision task with ambiguous stimuli on humans. To understand the driving force behind the perceptual decision process, a biologically inspired cortical network model was used. Two theoretical scenarios arose for explaining the perceptual switch from the category of the adaptor stimulus to the opposite, nonadapted one. One is noise-driven transition due to the probabilistic spike times of neurons and the other is adaptation-driven transition due to afterhyperpolarization currents. With increasing levels of neural adaptation, the system shifts from a noise-driven to an adaptation-driven modus. The behavioral results show that the underlying model is not just a bistable model, as usual in the decision-making modeling literature, but that neuronal adaptation is high and therefore the working point of the model is in the oscillatory regime. Using the same model parameters, we studied the effect of neural adaptation in a perceptual decision-making task where the same ambiguous stimulus was presented with and without a preceding adaptor stimulus. We find that for different levels of sensory evidence favoring one of the two interpretations of the ambiguous stimulus, higher levels of neural adaptation lead to quicker decisions contributing to a speed?accuracy trade off.