There are many monitoring environments, such as railway control, in which lapses of attention can have tragic consequences. Problematically, sustained monitoring for rare targets is difficult, with more misses and longer reaction times over time. What changes in the brain underpin these 'vigilance decrements'? We designed a multiple-object monitoring (MOM) paradigm to examine how the neural representation of information varied with target frequency and time performing the task. Behavioural performance decreased over time for the rare target (monitoring) condition, but not for a frequent target (active) condition. This was mirrored in neural decoding using Magnetoencephalography: coding of critical information declined more during monitoring versus active conditions along the experiment. We developed new analyses that can predict behavioural errors from the neural data more than a second before they occurred. This facilitates pre-empting behavioural errors due to lapses in attention and provides new insight into the neural correlates of vigilance decrements.
We have shared the Magnetoencephalography data (i.e. time series) as well as behavioral data in Matlab '.mat' format on the Open Science Framework website at https://osf.io/5aw8v/ with the DOI: 10.17605/OSF.IO/5AW8V. We have also uploaded a video of the "Multiple-Object-Monitoring" paradigm, developed for this study, for easier understanding of the task at the same address. The mentioned address is dedicated to this project and we will regularly update the contents to make them easier to follow for other researchers.
Neural signatures of vigilance decrements predict behavioural errors before they occurOpen Science Framework, DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/5AW8V.
- Anina N Rich
- Alexandra Woolgar
- Alexandra Woolgar
- Hamid Karimi-Rouzbahani
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The Human Research Ethics Committee of Macquarie University approved the experimental protocols and the participants gave informed consent before participating in the experiment. The approval identifier is 52020297914411.
- Peter Kok, University College London, United Kingdom
© 2021, Karimi-Rouzbahani 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.
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.