Dr. William Hodos NACS Seminar: Dr. Hendrikje Nienborg

'Perceptual decisions as action-perception loops in neural circuits'

Dr. Hendrikje Nienborg

Studies of the neural basis of perceptual decision-making often treat each decision as a sensory-to-motor arc: the task is broken down into (independent) trials, and on each trial neural circuits extract the sensory information, compute the decision, and inform the action to report the decision. This reductionist approach is pragmatic. But it deemphasizes recurrency in the brain, the influence of a subject’s own body movements and behavioral state, flexibility to solve many tasks, and serial dependence in behavior. These phenomena play an important role during decision making in natural settings. For example, in some rodent species, an animal’s own body movements modulate the activity even in areas representing the sensory information itself. In my talk, I will review advances in our understanding of the neural basis of perceptual decision-making and highlight current challenges and open questions with a focus on neurophysiological recordings from the primate brain. I will argue that viewing perceptual decision-making as a recurrent process between multiple neural modules, rather than an arc, provides a fruitful path towards addressing these challenges.

Dr. Hendrikje Nienborg is an Investigator at NIH National Eye Institute.

Dr. William Hodos NACS Seminars are free and open to the public.