1. Neuroscience
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Behavioural and neural signatures of perceptual decision-making are modulated by pupil-linked arousal

  1. Jochem van Kempen  Is a corresponding author
  2. Gerard M Loughnane
  3. Daniel P Newman
  4. Simon P Kelly
  5. Alexander Thiele
  6. Redmond G O'Connell
  7. Mark A Bellgrove
  1. Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  2. Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  3. Monash University, Australia
  4. University College Dublin, Ireland
Research Article
  • Cited 7
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e42541 doi: 10.7554/eLife.42541

Abstract

The timing and accuracy of perceptual decision-making is exquisitely sensitive to fluctuations in arousal. Although extensive research has highlighted the role of various neural processing stages in forming decisions, our understanding of how arousal impacts these processes remains limited. Here we isolated electrophysiological signatures of decision-making alongside signals reflecting target selection, attentional engagement and motor output and examined their modulation as a function of tonic and phasic arousal, indexed by baseline and task-evoked pupil diameter, respectively. Reaction times were shorter on trials with lower tonic, and higher phasic arousal. Additionally, these two pupil measures were predictive of a unique set of EEG signatures that together represent multiple information processing steps of decision-making. Finally, behavioural variability associated with fluctuations in tonic and phasic arousal, indicative of neuromodulators acting on multiple timescales, was mediated by its effects on the EEG markers of attentional engagement, sensory processing and the variability in decision processing.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jochem van Kempen

    Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    jochem.van-kempen@ncl.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-0211-9545
  2. Gerard M Loughnane

    School of Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1961-5294
  3. Daniel P Newman

    School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8240-1876
  4. Simon P Kelly

    School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-9983-3595
  5. Alexander Thiele

    Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Redmond G O'Connell

    Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6949-2793
  7. Mark A Bellgrove

    Monash Institute for Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-0186-8349

Funding

Wellcome (93104)

  • Jochem van Kempen
  • Alexander Thiele

Australian Research Council (FT130101488)

  • Mark A Bellgrove

Office of Naval Research Global

  • Alexander Thiele
  • Redmond G O'Connell
  • Mark A Bellgrove

Newcastle University, Monash University

  • Alexander Thiele
  • Mark A Bellgrove

Australian Research Council (DP150100986)

  • Mark A Bellgrove

Australian Research Council (DP180102066)

  • Mark A Bellgrove

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: The experimental protocal was approved by the human research ethics committee from Monash University and Trinity College Dublin, and informed consent was obtained from all participants before testing. Project number Monash University: 3658, Trinity College: SPREC012014-1

Reviewing Editor

  1. Eran Eldar, UCL, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 3, 2018
  2. Accepted: March 16, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 18, 2019 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: April 5, 2019 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2019, van Kempen et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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