Russell De Valois Memorial Lecture Series

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 4:00 – 5:00pm  in 489 Minor Hall

Monitoring Covert Visual Decisions via Neural Population Dynamics in Frontal Cortex

presented by

William T. Newsome, PhD
Harman Family Provostial Professor
Vincent V.C. Woo Director of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute
Professor of Neurobiology and, by courtesy, of Psychology

The neural mechanisms underlying visual decisions are typically examined by statistical analysis of large numbers of trials from sequentially recorded single neurons. Averaging across sequential recordings, however, obscures important aspects of decision-making such as ‘changes of mind’ (CoM) that occur at variable times on different trials. I will show that the covert decision variables (DV) can be tracked dynamically on single behavioral trials via simultaneous recording of large neural populations in prefrontal cortex. Vacillations of the visual DV, in turn, identify candidate CoM in monkeys, and show that they closely match the known properties of human CoM. Thus simultaneous population recordings can provide insight into transient, internal cognitive states that are otherwise undetectable.

 

Host: John Flanagan

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