The way that we interpret and interact with the world entails making decisions on the basis of available sensory evidence. Recent primate neurophysiology [1-6], human neuroimaging [7-13], and modeling experiments [14-19] have demonstrated that perceptual decisions are based on an integrative process in which sensory evidence accumulates over time until an internal decision bound is reached. Here we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to provide causal support for the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in this integrative process. Specifically, we used a speeded perceptual categorization task designed to induce a time-dependent accumulation of sensory evidence through rapidly updating dynamic stimuli and found that disruption of the left DLPFC with low-frequency rTMS reduced accuracy and increased response times relative to a sham condition. Importantly, using the drift-diffusion model, we show that these behavioral effects correspond to a decrease in drift rate, a parameter describing the rate and thereby the efficiency of the sensory evidence integration in the decision process. These results provide causal evidence linking the DLPFC to the mechanism of evidence accumulation during perceptual decision making.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.