Representation of a perceptual decision in developing oculomotor commands

Nature. 2000 Mar 23;404(6776):390-4. doi: 10.1038/35006062.


Behaviour often depends on the ability to make categorical judgements about sensory information acquired over time. Such judgements require a comparison of the evidence favouring the alternatives, but how the brain forms these comparisons is unknown. Here we show that in a visual discrimination task, the accumulating balance of sensory evidence favouring one interpretation over another is evident in the neural circuits that generate the behavioural response. We trained monkeys to make a direction judgement about dynamic random-dot motions and to indicate their judgement with an eye movement to a visual target. We interrupted motion viewing with electrical microstimulation of the frontal eye field and analysed the resulting, evoked eye movements for evidence of ongoing activity associated with the oculomotor response. Evoked eye movements deviated in the direction of the monkey's judgement. The magnitude of the deviation depended on motion strength and viewing time. The oculomotor signals responsible for these deviations reflected the accumulated motion information that informed the monkey's choices on the discrimination task. Thus, for this task, decision formation and motor preparation appear to share a common level of neural organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Saccades / physiology