Neural Dynamics of Choice: Single-Trial Analysis of Decision-Related Activity in Parietal Cortex
Anil Bollimunta, Douglas Totten, and Jochen Ditterich
J. Neurosci. 2012;32 12684-12701
Previous neurophysiological studies of perceptual decision-making have focused on single-unit activity, providing insufficient information about how individual decisions are accomplished. For the first time, we recorded simultaneously from multiple decision-related neurons in parietal cortex of monkeys performing a perceptual decision task and used these recordings to analyze the neural dynamics during single trials. We demonstrate that decision-related lateral intraparietal area neurons typically undergo gradual changes in firing rate during individual decisions, as predicted by mechanisms based on continuous integration of sensory evidence. Furthermore, we identify individual decisions that can be described as a change of mind: the decision circuitry was transiently in a state associated with a different choice before transitioning into a state associated with the final choice. These changes of mind reflected in monkey neural activity share similarities with previously reported changes of mind reflected in human behavior.