Probing perceptual decisions in rodents

Nat Neurosci. 2013 Jul;16(7):824-31. doi: 10.1038/nn.3410. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


The study of perceptual decision-making offers insight into how the brain uses complex, sometimes ambiguous information to guide actions. Understanding the underlying processes and their neural bases requires that one pair recordings and manipulations of neural activity with rigorous psychophysics. Though this research has been traditionally performed in primates, it seems increasingly promising to pursue it at least partly in mice and rats. However, rigorous psychophysical methods are not yet as developed for these rodents as they are for primates. Here we give a brief overview of the sensory capabilities of rodents and of their cortical areas devoted to sensation and decision. We then review methods of psychophysics, focusing on the technical issues that arise in their implementation in rodents. These methods represent a rich set of challenges and opportunities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Psychophysics / instrumentation
  • Psychophysics / methods*
  • Rats
  • Signal Detection, Psychological / physiology*