Rhythmic fluctuations in evidence accumulation during decision making in the human brain

Neuron. 2012 Nov 21;76(4):847-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.09.015.


Categorical choices are preceded by the accumulation of sensory evidence in favor of one action or another. Current models describe evidence accumulation as a continuous process occurring at a constant rate, but this view is inconsistent with accounts of a psychological refractory period during sequential information processing. During multisample perceptual categorization, we found that the neural encoding of momentary evidence in human electrical brain signals and its subsequent impact on choice fluctuated rhythmically according to the phase of ongoing parietal delta oscillations (1-3 Hz). By contrast, lateralized beta-band power (10-30 Hz) overlying human motor cortex encoded the integrated evidence as a response preparation signal. These findings draw a clear distinction between central and motor stages of perceptual decision making, with successive samples of sensory evidence competing to pass through a serial processing bottleneck before being mapped onto action.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Beta Rhythm / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Delta Rhythm / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Periodicity*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychophysics
  • Young Adult