Michael N. Shadlen - The neurobiology of decision making: The best-laid plans of mice and primates
From Katie Gentilello on October 15th, 2020
Many decisions arise through an accumulation of evidence to a terminating threshold. The process provides a unified account of the choice (e.g., accuracy) and the amount of time taken to complete it. It also provides a unified account of confidence, vacillation, changes of mind and the incorporation of prior bias. The computations are supported by neural mechanisms that operate in association areas of the primate brain. A working hypothesis is that the neural mechanisms that underlie primate decision making are also the building blocks of cognitive function writ large, and I am captivated by the idea that failure of these mechanisms may play a role in disorders that manifest as cognitive impairment. On this background, I will describe a new effort in the lab to exploit the mouse model toward a more refined, circuit-level understanding of the neural mechanisms. I will share our first finding—a context-dependent change in the configuration of a premotor circuit that is required to resolve a delayed-match vs. non-match decision.