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Neuroimage. 2013 Jan 15;65:456-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.09.064. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Similar neural mechanisms for perceptual guesses and free decisions.

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Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1A, 04109 Leipzig, Germany.


When facing perceptual choices under challenging conditions we might believe to be purely guessing. But which brain regions determine the outcome of our guesses? One possibility is that higher-level, domain-general brain regions might help break the symmetry between equal-appearing choices. Here we directly investigated whether perceptual guesses share brain networks with other types of free decisions. We trained an fMRI-based pattern classifier to distinguish between two perceptual guesses and tested whether it was able to predict the outcome of similar non-perceptual choices, as in conventional free choice tasks. Activation patterns in the medial posterior parietal cortex cross-predicted free decisions from perceptual guesses and vice versa. This inter-changeability strongly speaks for a similar neural code for both types of decisions. The posterior parietal cortex might be part of a domain-general system that helps resolve decision conflicts when no choice option is more or less likely or valuable, thus preventing behavioural stalemate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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