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Vision Res. 2008 Jun;48(12):1345-73. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2008.02.019. Epub 2008 May 2.

Temporal dynamics of decision-making during motion perception in the visual cortex.

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Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Center for Adaptive Systems, Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science, and Technology, Boston University, 677 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA. <>


How does the brain make decisions? Speed and accuracy of perceptual decisions covary with certainty in the input, and correlate with the rate of evidence accumulation in parietal and frontal cortical "decision neurons". A biophysically realistic model of interactions within and between Retina/LGN and cortical areas V1, MT, MST, and LIP, gated by basal ganglia, simulates dynamic properties of decision-making in response to ambiguous visual motion stimuli used by Newsome, Shadlen, and colleagues in their neurophysiological experiments. The model clarifies how brain circuits that solve the aperture problem interact with a recurrent competitive network with self-normalizing choice properties to carry out probabilistic decisions in real time. Some scientists claim that perception and decision-making can be described using Bayesian inference or related general statistical ideas, that estimate the optimal interpretation of the stimulus given priors and likelihoods. However, such concepts do not propose the neocortical mechanisms that enable perception, and make decisions. The present model explains behavioral and neurophysiological decision-making data without an appeal to Bayesian concepts and, unlike other existing models of these data, generates perceptual representations and choice dynamics in response to the experimental visual stimuli. Quantitative model simulations include the time course of LIP neuronal dynamics, as well as behavioral accuracy and reaction time properties, during both correct and error trials at different levels of input ambiguity in both fixed duration and reaction time tasks. Model MT/MST interactions compute the global direction of random dot motion stimuli, while model LIP computes the stochastic perceptual decision that leads to a saccadic eye movement.

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