Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Humans and monkeys of one mind when it comes to changing it

Date:
June 19, 2014
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Covert changes of mind can be discovered by tracking neural activity when subjects make decisions, researchers have found. Their results, offer new insights into how we make decisions and point to innovative ways to study this process in the future.

Long-tailed macaque, Macaca fascicularis. (stock image)
Credit: © Erni / Fotolia

Covert changes of mind can be discovered by tracking neural activity when subjects make decisions, researchers from New York University and Stanford University have found. Their results, which appear in the journal Current Biology, offer new insights into how we make decisions and point to innovative ways to study this process in the future.

Related Articles


"The methods used in this study allowed us to see the idiosyncratic nature of decision making that was inaccessible before," explains Roozbeh Kiani, an assistant professor in NYU's Center for Neural Science and the study's lead author.

The study's other authors included Christopher Cueva and John Reppas of Stanford's Department of Neurobiology and William Newsome, who holds appointments at the university's Department of Neurobiology and at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Stanford's School of Medicine.

Previous work on the decision-making process -- a plan of action based on evidence, prior knowledge, and payoff -- has been methodologically limited. In earlier studies, scientists analyzed one neuron at a time, then averaged these results across neurons to develop an understanding of this activity. However, such a measurement offers only snapshots of neurological behavior and misses the fine-scale dynamics that lead up to a decision.

In the Current Biology study, the researchers examined many neurons at once, giving them a more detailed understanding of decision making.

"Now we can look at the nuances of this dynamic and track changes over a specified period," explains Kiani. "Looking at one neuron at a time is 'noisy': results vary from trial to trial so you cannot get a clear picture of this complex activity. By recording multiple neurons at the same time, you can take out this noise and get a more robust picture of the underlying dynamics."

The researchers studied macaque monkeys, running them through a series of tasks while monitoring the animals' neuronal workings.

In the experiment, the monkeys viewed a patch of randomly moving dots on a computer screen. Following the stimulus, monkeys received a "Go" signal to report the motion direction by making an eye movement. The scientists sought to predict the monkeys' choices purely based on the recorded neural responses before the Go signal. Their model achieved highly accurate predictions.

The same model was then used to study potential dynamics of the monkeys' decision at different times before the Go signal. The scientists confirmed these predictions by stopping the decision-making process at arbitrary times and comparing the model predictions with the monkeys' actual choices.

Surprisingly, the monkeys' decisions were not always stable. Occasionally, they vacillated from one choice to another, indicating covert changes of mind during decision-making. These changes of mind closely matched the properties of human changes of mind, which were uncovered in a 2009 study. They were more frequent in uncertain conditions, more likely to correct an initial mistake, and more likely to happen earlier during a decision.

The research was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Air Force Research Laboratory (FA9550-07-1-0537), a Berry Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Sloan Research Fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Roozbeh Kiani, Christopher J. Cueva, John B. Reppas, William T. Newsome. Dynamics of Neural Population Responses in Prefrontal Cortex Indicate Changes of Mind on Single Trials. Current Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.049

Cite This Page:

New York University. "Humans and monkeys of one mind when it comes to changing it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619124915.htm>.
New York University. (2014, June 19). Humans and monkeys of one mind when it comes to changing it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619124915.htm
New York University. "Humans and monkeys of one mind when it comes to changing it." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619124915.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins