Distractors selectively modulate electrophysiological markers of perceptual decisions

Zhou, Shou-Han, Loughnane, Gerard, O'Connell, Redmond, Bellgrove, Mark A., and Chong, Trevor T-J. (2021) Distractors selectively modulate electrophysiological markers of perceptual decisions. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33 (6). pp. 1020-1031.

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Current models of perceptual decision-making assume that choices are made after evidence in favor of an alternative accumulates to a given threshold. This process has recently been revealed in human EEG recordings, but an unresolved issue is how these neural mechanisms are modulated by competing, yet task-irrelevant, stimuli. In this study, we tested 20 healthy participants on a motion direction discrimination task. Participants monitored two patches of random dot motion simultaneously presented on either side of fixation for periodic changes in an upward or downward motion, which could occur equiprobably in either patch. On a random 50% of trials, these periods of coherent vertical motion were accompanied by simultaneous task-irrelevant, horizontal motion in the contralateral patch. Our data showed that these distractors selectively increased the amplitude of early target selection responses over scalp sites contralateral to the distractor stimulus, without impacting on responses ipsilateral to the distractor. Importantly, this modulation mediated a decrement in the subsequent buildup rate of a neural signature of evidence accumulation and accounted for a slowing of RTs. These data offer new insights into the functional interactions between target selection and evidence accumulation signals, and their susceptibility to task-irrelevant distractors. More broadly, these data neurally inform future models of perceptual decision-making by highlighting the influence of early processing of competing stimuli on the accumulation of perceptual evidence.

Item ID: 68405
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1530-8898
Copyright Information: © 2021 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Brain Foundation, H2020 European Research Council (ERC), Judith Jane Mason and Harold Stannett Williams Memorial Foundation, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Office of Naval Research Global, Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation, The Society for Mental Health Research
Projects and Grants: ARC DE180100389, ARC DP180102066, ARC DP180102383, H2020 (ERC) 63289
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2021 22:53
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology > 520402 Decision making @ 50%
40 ENGINEERING > 4003 Biomedical engineering > 400309 Neural engineering @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280110 Expanding knowledge in engineering @ 50%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 50%
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