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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.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1A, 04109 Leipzig, Germany. sbode@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

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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