Decision-making in dynamic, continuously evolving environments: quantifying the flexibility of human choice

Maria Ruesseler, Lilian Weber, Tom Marshall, Jill O'Reilly, Laurence Hunt, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Contributed Talks 2 Lecture

Cognitive science

Grand Ballroom A-C

Presentation Time:
Fri, 26 Aug, 17:10 - 17:30 Pacific Time (UTC -7)

During perceptual decision-making tasks, centroparietal EEG potentials report an evidence accumulation-to- bound process that is timelocked to trial onset. However, decisions in real-world environments are rarely confined to discrete trials; they instead unfold continuously, with accumulation of time-varying evidence being recency- weighted towards its immediate past. Confronted with time-varying stimuli, humans can appropriately adapt their weighting of recent evidence according to the statistics of the environment. The neural mechanisms supporting this adaptation currently remain unclear. Here, we show that humans’ ability to adapt evidence weighting to different sensory environments is reflected in changes in centroparietal EEG potentials. We use a novel continuous task design to show that the Centroparietal Positivity (CPP) becomes more sensitive to fluctuations in sensory evidence when large shifts in evidence are less frequent, and is primarily sensitive to fluctuations in decision-relevant (not decision-irrelevant) sensory input. A complementary triphasic component over parietal cortex encodes the sum of recently accumulated sensory evidence. Its magnitude covaries with the duration over which different individuals integrate sensory evidence. These adaptations to different environments are consistent with predictions from a computational model of leaky evidence integration (Ohnstein-Uhlenbeck processs). Our findings reveal how adaptations in centroparietal responses reflect flexibility in evidence accumulation to the statistics of dynamic sensory environments.

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2022 Conference on Cognitive Computational Neuroscience
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