The ability to revise one's certainty or confidence in a preceding choice is a critical feature of adaptive decision-making but the neural mechanisms underpinning this metacognitive process have yet to be characterized. In the present study, we demonstrate that the same build-to-threshold decision variable signal that triggers an initial choice continues to evolve after commitment, and determines the timing and accuracy of self-initiated error detection reports by selectively representing accumulated evidence that the preceding choice was incorrect. We also show that a peri-choice signal generated in medial frontal cortex provides a source of input to this post-decision accumulation process, indicating that metacognitive judgments are not solely based on the accumulation of feedforward sensory evidence. These findings impart novel insights into the generative mechanisms of metacognition.
Human subjects: We state in our manuscript (p.19):"[Subjects] provided written informed consent, and all procedures were approved by the Trinity College Dublin ethics committee and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
- Michael J Frank, Brown University, United States
© 2015, Murphy et al.
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Evoked responses and oscillations represent two major electrophysiological phenomena in the human brain yet the link between them remains rather obscure. Here we show how most frequently studied EEG signals: the P300-evoked response and alpha oscillations (8–12 Hz) can be linked with the baseline-shift mechanism. This mechanism states that oscillations generate evoked responses if oscillations have a non-zero mean and their amplitude is modulated by the stimulus. Therefore, the following predictions should hold: (1) the temporal evolution of P300 and alpha amplitude is similar, (2) spatial localisations of the P300 and alpha amplitude modulation overlap, (3) oscillations are non-zero mean, (4) P300 and alpha amplitude correlate with cognitive scores in a similar fashion. To validate these predictions, we analysed the data set of elderly participants (N=2230, 60–82 years old), using (a) resting-state EEG recordings to quantify the mean of oscillations, (b) the event-related data, to extract parameters of P300 and alpha rhythm amplitude envelope. We showed that P300 is indeed linked to alpha rhythm, according to all four predictions. Our results provide an unifying view on the interdependency of evoked responses and neuronal oscillations and suggest that P300, at least partly, is generated by the modulation of alpha oscillations.
Perceptual decisions about sensory input are influenced by fluctuations in ongoing neural activity, most prominently driven by attention and neuromodulator systems. It is currently unknown if neuromodulator activity and attention differentially modulate perceptual decision-making and/or whether neuromodulatory systems in fact control attentional processes. To investigate the effects of two distinct neuromodulatory systems and spatial attention on perceptual decisions, we pharmacologically elevated cholinergic (through donepezil) and catecholaminergic (through atomoxetine) levels in humans performing a visuo-spatial attention task, while we measured electroencephalography (EEG). Both attention and catecholaminergic enhancement improved decision-making at the behavioral and algorithmic level, as reflected in increased perceptual sensitivity and the modulation of the drift rate parameter derived from drift diffusion modeling. Univariate analyses of EEG data time-locked to the attentional cue, the target stimulus, and the motor response further revealed that attention and catecholaminergic enhancement both modulated pre-stimulus cortical excitability, cue- and stimulus-evoked sensory activity, as well as parietal evidence accumulation signals. Interestingly, we observed both similar, unique, and interactive effects of attention and catecholaminergic neuromodulation on these behavioral, algorithmic, and neural markers of the decision-making process. Thereby, this study reveals an intricate relationship between attentional and catecholaminergic systems and advances our understanding about how these systems jointly shape various stages of perceptual decision-making.