Neuronal correlates of decision-making in secondary somatosensory cortex

Nat Neurosci. 2002 Nov;5(11):1217-25. doi: 10.1038/nn950.


The ability to discriminate between two sequential stimuli requires evaluation of current sensory information in reference to stored information. Where and how does this evaluation occur? We trained monkeys to compare two mechanical vibrations applied sequentially to the fingertips and to report which of the two had the higher frequency. We recorded single neurons in secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) while the monkeys performed the task. During the first stimulus period, the firing rate of S2 neurons encoded the stimulus frequency. During the second stimulus period, however, some S2 neurons did not merely encode the stimulus frequency. The responses of these neurons were a function of both the remembered (first) and current (second) stimulus. Moreover, a few hundred milliseconds after the presentation of the second stimulus, these responses were correlated with the monkey's decision. This suggests that some S2 neurons may combine past and present sensory information for decision-making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch / physiology
  • Vibration