Focused Review ARTICLE
Front. Neurosci., 15 December 2008 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/neuro.01.028.2008
Temporal dynamics underlying perceptual decision making: Insights from the interplay between an attractor model and parietal neurophysiology
Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics, Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
Section of Neurobiology, Center for Perceptual Systems, Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA
Recent neurophysiological studies in awake, behaving primates have revealed that neurons in certain brain areas appear to integrate sensory evidence over time during the performance of perceptual decision-making tasks. Neurons in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) of rhesus monkeys exhibit such decision-related signals while the animals view and judge the direction of a visual motion display. Further investigation of this temporal integration process using brief perturbations of the sensory evidence has suggested that LIP neurons do not integrate evidence in a perfect, linear manner. We describe how a biophysically-plausible attractor network model can account for many aspects of the temporal dynamics of neural activity during these perceptual decisions. We also review a larger set of models and explain how the dynamics during and after temporal integration can help to distinguish the underlying neural mechanisms. Finally, we propose some crucial theoretically-motivated experiments that are needed to test among models.