Neural computations that underlie decisions about sensory stimuli

Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Jan 1;5(1):10-16. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01567-9.


Decision-making behavior has been studied extensively, but the neurophysiological mechanisms responsible for this remarkable cognitive ability are just beginning to be understood. Here we propose neural computations that can account for the formation of categorical decisions about sensory stimuli by accumulating information over time into a single quantity: the logarithm of the likelihood ratio favoring one alternative over another. We also review electrophysio-logical studies that have identified brain structures that may be involved in computing this sort of decision variable. The ideas presented constitute a framework for understanding how and where perceptual decisions are formed in the brain.