1. Neuroscience
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Multiple decisions about one object involve parallel sensory acquisition but time-multiplexed evidence incorporation

  1. Yul HR Kang  Is a corresponding author
  2. Anne Löffler
  3. Danique Jeurissen
  4. Ariel Zylberberg
  5. Daniel M Wolpert
  6. Michael N Shadlen  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  2. Columbia University, United States
  3. University of Rochester, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e63721 doi: 10.7554/eLife.63721

Abstract

The brain is capable of processing several streams of information that bear on different aspects of the same problem. Here we address the problem of making two decisions about one object, by studying difficult perceptual decisions about the color and motion of a dynamic random dot display. We find that the accuracy of one decision is unaffected by the difficulty of the other decision. However, the response times reveal that the two decisions do not form simultaneously. We show that both stimulus dimensions are acquired in parallel for the initial ∼0.1 s but are then incorporated serially in time-multiplexed bouts. Thus there is a bottleneck that precludes updating more than one decision at a time, and a buffer that stores samples of evidence while access to the decision is blocked. We suggest that this bottleneck is responsible for the long timescales of many cognitive operations framed as decisions.

Data availability

The data is on figshare at: https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13607255The code is available at the following repository: https://github.com/yulkang/2D_DecisionThe figshare (allows deposition of big data) and github (suitable for maintenance of code) repositories refer to each other.

The following data sets were generated

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Yul HR Kang

    Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    yul.hr.kang@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8846-5296
  2. Anne Löffler

    Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Danique Jeurissen

    Kavli Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3835-5977
  4. Ariel Zylberberg

    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2572-4748
  5. Daniel M Wolpert

    Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2011-2790
  6. Michael N Shadlen

    Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, United States
    For correspondence
    shadlen@columbia.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2002-2210

Funding

National Eye Institute (T32EY01393)

  • Yul HR Kang

Simons Foundation (414196)

  • Danique Jeurissen

Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (28476)

  • Danique Jeurissen

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

  • Michael N Shadlen

National Eye Institute (R01EY11378)

  • Michael N Shadlen

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01NS113113)

  • Michael N Shadlen

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 study was approved by the local ethics committee (Institutional Review Board of Columbia University Medical Center IRB-AAAL0658 & IRB-AAAR9148
). Thirteen participants (5 male and 8 female, age 23-40, median = 26, IQR = 25-32, mean = 28.3, SD = 5.74) provided written informed consent and took part in the study

Reviewing Editor

  1. Kristine Krug, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 4, 2020
  2. Accepted: March 6, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 10, 2021 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2021, Kang 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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