Perceptual decisions and oculomotor responses rely on temporally distinct streams of evidence


Perceptual decisions often require the integration of noisy sensory evidence over time. This process is formalized with sequential sampling models, where evidence is accumulated up to a decision threshold before a choice is made. Although intuition suggests that decision formation must precede the preparation of a motor response (i.e., the action used to communicate the choice), neurophysiological findings have suggested that these two processes might be one and the same. To test this idea, we developed a reverse-correlation protocol in which the visual stimuli that influence decisions can be distinguished from those guiding motor responses. In three experiments, we found that the temporal weighting function of oculomotor responses did not overlap with the relatively early weighting function of stimulus properties having an impact on decision formation. These results support a timeline in which perceptual decisions are formed, at least in part, prior to the preparation of a motor response.

Nature Communications Biology
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