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Comput Intell Neurosci. 2015;2015:493769. doi: 10.1155/2015/493769. Epub 2015 Mar 26.

Estimating latent attentional states based on simultaneous binary and continuous behavioral measures.

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Departments of Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Physiology, School of Medicine, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Cognition is a complex and dynamic process. It is an essential goal to estimate latent attentional states based on behavioral measures in many sequences of behavioral tasks. Here, we propose a probabilistic modeling and inference framework for estimating the attentional state using simultaneous binary and continuous behavioral measures. The proposed model extends the standard hidden Markov model (HMM) by explicitly modeling the state duration distribution, which yields a special example of the hidden semi-Markov model (HSMM). We validate our methods using computer simulations and experimental data. In computer simulations, we systematically investigate the impacts of model mismatch and the latency distribution. For the experimental data collected from a rodent visual detection task, we validate the results with predictive log-likelihood. Our work is useful for many behavioral neuroscience experiments, where the common goal is to infer the discrete (binary or multinomial) state sequences from multiple behavioral measures.

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