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Categorical evidence, confidence and urgency during the integration of multi-feature information




Braunlich, Kurt, author
Seger, Carol, advisor
Anderson, Charles, committee member
Rhodes, Matthew, committee member
Troup, Lucy, committee member

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The present experiment utilized a temporally-extended categorization task to investigate the neural substrates underlying our ability to integrate information over time and across multiple stimulus features. Importantly, the design allowed differentiation of three important decision functions: 1) categorical evidence, 2) decisional confidence (the choice-independent probability that a decision will lead to a desirable state), and 3) urgency (a hypothetical signal representing a growing pressure to produce a behavioral response within each trial). In conjunction with model-based fMRI, the temporal evolution of these variables were tracked as participants deliberated about impending choices. The approach allowed investigation of the independent effects of urgency across the brain, and also the investigation of how urgency might modulate representations of categorical evidence and confidence. Representations associated with prediction errors during feedback were also investigated. Many cortical and striatal somatomotor regions tracked the dynamical evolution of categorical evidence, while many regions of the dorsal and ventral attention networks (Corbetta and Shulman, 2002) tracked decisional confidence and uncertainty. Urgency influenced activity in regions known to be associated with flexible control of the speed-accuracy trade-off (particularly the pre- SMA and striatum), and additionally modulated representations of categorical evidence and confidence. The results, therefore, link the urgency signal to two hypothetical mechanisms underling flexible control of decision thresholding (Bogacz et al., 2010): gain modulation of the striatal thresholding circuitry, and gain modulation of the integrated categorical evidence.


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