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Elife. 2014 May 27;3. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02260.

A neural mechanism of speed-accuracy tradeoff in macaque area LIP.

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Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, United States.
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, United States.
Department of Neuroscience, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, New York, United States.


Decision making often involves a tradeoff between speed and accuracy. Previous studies indicate that neural activity in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) represents the gradual accumulation of evidence toward a threshold level, or evidence bound, which terminates the decision process. The level of this bound is hypothesized to mediate the speed-accuracy tradeoff. To test this, we recorded from LIP while monkeys performed a motion discrimination task in two speed-accuracy regimes. Surprisingly, the terminating threshold levels of neural activity were similar in both regimes. However, neurons recorded in the faster regime exhibited stronger evidence-independent activation from the beginning of decision formation, effectively reducing the evidence-dependent neural modulation needed for choice commitment. Our results suggest that control of speed vs accuracy may be exerted through changes in decision-related neural activity itself rather than through changes in the threshold applied to such neural activity to terminate a decision.


decision making; neuroscience; parietal cortex; rhesus macaque monkey; speed-accuracy tradeoff

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