Decoding the Temporal Evolution of a Simple Perceptual Act

  1. Derek J. Chadwick,
  2. Mathew Diamond Organizer and
  3. Jamie Goode
  1. Ranulfo Romo Chair,
  2. Adrián Hernández,
  3. Antonio Zainos,
  4. Luis Lemus,
  5. Victor de Lafuente,
  6. Rogelio Luna and
  7. Verónica Nacher

Published Online: 7 OCT 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470034989.ch14

Percept, Decision, Action: Bridging the Gaps: Novartis Foundation Symposium 270

Percept, Decision, Action: Bridging the Gaps: Novartis Foundation Symposium 270

How to Cite

Romo, R., Hernández, A., Zainos, A., Lemus, L., de Lafuente, V., Luna, R. and Nacher, V. (2006) Decoding the Temporal Evolution of a Simple Perceptual Act, in Percept, Decision, Action: Bridging the Gaps: Novartis Foundation Symposium 270 (eds D. J. Chadwick, M. Diamond and J. Goode), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470034989.ch14

Author Information

  1. Instituto de Fisiologia Celular, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Apartado Postal 70–253, 04510 Mexico Distrito Federal, Mexico

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 7 OCT 2008
  2. Published Print: 13 JAN 2006

Book Series:

  1. Novartis Foundation Symposia

Book Series Editors:

  1. Novartis Foundation

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470012338

Online ISBN: 9780470034989

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Keywords:

  • perceptual task and neural operation chain;
  • temporal evolution;
  • perceptual decision making process;
  • vibrotactile discrimination task;
  • sensory-and motor-related activity continuum

Summary

Most perceptual tasks require sequential steps to be carried out. This must be the case, for example, when subjects discriminate the difference in frequency between two mechanical vibrations applied sequentially to their fingertips. This perceptual task can be understood as a chain of neural operations: encoding the two consecutive stimulus frequencies, maintaining the first stimulus in working memory, comparing the second stimulus to the memory trace left by the first stimulus, and communicating the result of the comparison to the motor apparatus. Where and how in the brain are these cognitive operations executed? We addressed this problem by recording single neurons from several cortical areas while trained monkeys executed the vibrotactile discrimination task. We found that primary somatosensory cortex (S1) drives higher cortical areas where past and current sensory information are combined, such that a comparison of the two evolves into a decision. Consistent with this result, direct activation of the S1 can trigger quantifiable percepts in this task. These findings provide a fairly complete panorama of the neural dynamics that underlies the transformation of sensory information into an action and emphasize the importance of studying multiple cortical areas during the same behavioural task.