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Nat Commun. 2017 Mar 3;8:14637. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14637.

Pupil-linked arousal is driven by decision uncertainty and alters serial choice bias.

Author information

1
Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg 20246, Germany.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1018 WT, The Netherlands.
3
Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC), University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1018 WT, The Netherlands.

Abstract

While judging their sensory environments, decision-makers seem to use the uncertainty about their choices to guide adjustments of their subsequent behaviour. One possible source of these behavioural adjustments is arousal: decision uncertainty might drive the brain's arousal systems, which control global brain state and might thereby shape subsequent decision-making. Here, we measure pupil diameter, a proxy for central arousal state, in human observers performing a perceptual choice task of varying difficulty. Pupil dilation, after choice but before external feedback, reflects three hallmark signatures of decision uncertainty derived from a computational model. This increase in pupil-linked arousal boosts observers' tendency to alternate their choice on the subsequent trial. We conclude that decision uncertainty drives rapid changes in pupil-linked arousal state, which shape the serial correlation structure of ongoing choice behaviour.

PMID:
28256514
PMCID:
PMC5337963
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms14637
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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