Navigation Links
Neurons cast votes to guide decision-making
Date:10/8/2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn.We know that casting a ballot in the voting booth involves politics, values and personalities. But before you ever push the button for your candidate, your brain has already carried out an election of its own to make that action possible. New research from Vanderbilt University reveals that our brain accumulates evidence when faced with a choice and triggers an action once that evidence reaches a tipping point.

The research was published in the October issue of Psychological Review.

"Psychological models of decision-making explain that humans gradually accumulate evidence for a particular choice over time, and execute that choice when evidence reaches a critical level. However, until recently there was little understanding of how this might actually be implemented in the brain," Braden Purcell, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and lead author of the new study, said. "We found that certain neurons seem to represent the accumulation of evidence to a threshold and others represent the evidence itself, and that these two types of neurons interact to drive decision-making."

The researchers presented monkeys with a simple visual task of finding a target on a screen that also included distracting items. The researchers found that neurons processing visual information from the screen fed that information to the neurons responsible for movement. These movement neurons served as gatekeepers, suppressing action until the information they received from the visual neurons was sufficiently clear. When that occurred, the movement neurons then proceeded to trigger the chosen movement.

The researchers also found that the movement neurons mediated a competition between what was being seenin this case, the target and distracting itemsand ensured that the decision was made to look to the proper item.

"What the brain seems to do is for every vote it receives for one candidate, it suppresses a vote for the other candidate, exaggerating the differences between the two," Jeffrey Schall, E. Bronson Ingram Chair in Neuroscience and co-author of the study said. "The system that makes the response doesn't listen to the vote tally until it's clear that the election is going towards one particular candidate. At that point, the circuitry that makes the movement is triggered and the movement takes place."

The findings offer potential insights into some psychological disorders.

"Impairments in decision-making are at the core of a variety of psychological and neurological impairments. For example, previous work suggests that ADHD patients may suffer deficits in controlling evidence accumulation," Purcell said. "This work may help us to understand why these deficits occur at a neurobiological level."

An important piece of this research is the novel model the researchers used in the study. The new model combined a mathematical prediction of what they thought would transpire with actual data about what the neurons were doing.

"In a model, usually all the elements are defined by mathematical equations or computational expressions," Thomas Palmeri, associate professor of psychology and a co-author of the study, said. "In our work, rather than coming up with a mathematical expression for the inputs to the neural decision process, we defined those inputs with actual recordings from neurons. This hybrid model predicts both where and when the eyes move, and variability in the timing of those movements."

"This approach provides insight between psychological processes and what neurons are doing," Schall said. "If we want to understand the mind-brain problem, this is what solutions look like."


'/>"/>

Contact: Melanie Moran
melanie.moran@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-2706
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Neuralstem stem cells survive and differentiate into neurons in rats with stroke
2. With magnetic nanoparticles, scientists remotely control neurons and animal behavior
3. Blinking neurons give thoughts away
4. FDA Panel Votes Against Approval of Female Viagra
5. Chicago Votes for Improved Healthcare with ZocDoc
6. Visible Vote Surpasses 1 Million Votes Sent to Congress; 96% of Users Will Use Visible Vote to Decide Who to Elect
7. Mammogram Guidelines Still Beget Confusion
8. New Medicare model guidelines for benefit years 2012-2014 in development
9. Leading practitioners recommend global PTSD treatment guidelines
10. New guideline finds no evidence for a popular back procedure
11. Updated resource guide for internists released by ACP
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... The annual list showcases ... evaluation of DataPoint’s team dedication and commitment to the SharePoint ecosystem. A ... annual list. The panel’s goal is to recognize and promote technology entrepreneurship. , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 11, 2016 , ... Be ... new office in the heart of Old Town at 108 South Columbus St, Suite ... businesses the highest level of medical care in the convenience of their homes, offices ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Hoggan ... force gauges used in physical therapy, occupational therapy and sports medicine clinics, hospitals, ... cord exercise and therapy, introduces its new microFET Digital Pinch Gauge. , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... become more actively engaged in health and wellness best practices in the past ... riding this trend. February is American Heart Month, which acts as an exceptional ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Research led by Providence ... several common cancer screenings, especially among women. Cancer screenings are often the best ... , The study,“What Does Medicaid Expansion Mean for Cancer Screening and Prevention: Results ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... -- Brain Cancer patients in the Mid-South ... West Cancer Center . Optune™, a portable ... cell replication causing death of cancer cells, is the ... show a significant extension in overall survival rates for ... Cancer Center is the only medical center in ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... 2016  AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, announced ... to provide financial support for exceptional students living ... education goals. Fifteen scholars will be selected to ... The AbbVie Rheumatology Scholarship is currently accepting applications. ... corporate social responsibility, brand and communications, AbbVie. "By ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016 PLAD, Inc. ... out 2016 with sales exceeding company targets, are adding ... received their trademark from the United States Patent and ... Clark , Chief Executive Officer of PLAD, Inc.  In ... Pennsylvania with two new customers, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: