Functional dissection of signal and noise in MT and LIP during decision-making

Yates JL, Park IM, Katz LN, Pillow JW, & Huk AC. Nature Neuroscience (2017), to appear.

During perceptual decision-making, responses in the middle temporal (MT) and lateral intraparietal (LIP) areas appear to map onto theoretically defined quantities, with MT representing instantaneous motion evidence and LIP reflecting the accumulated evidence. However, several aspects of the transformation between the two areas have not been empirically tested. We therefore performed multistage systems identification analyses of the simultaneous activity of MT and LIP during individual decisions. We found that monkeys based their choices on evidence presented in early epochs of the motion stimulus and that substantial early weighting of motion was present in MT responses. LIP responses recapitulated MT early weighting and contained a choice-dependent buildup that was distinguishable from motion integration. Furthermore, trial-by-trial variability in LIP did not depend on MT activity. These results identify important deviations from idealizations of MT and LIP and motivate inquiry into sensorimotor computations that may intervene between MT and LIP.

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