Neural oscillations and synchronization differentially support evidence accumulation in perceptual and value-based decision making

Neuron. 2014 May 7;82(3):709-20. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.03.014.


Organisms make two types of decisions on a regular basis. Perceptual decisions are determined by objective states of the world (e.g., melons are bigger than apples), whereas value-based decisions are determined by subjective preferences (e.g., I prefer apples to melons). Theoretical accounts suggest that both types of choice involve neural computations accumulating evidence for the choice alternatives; however, little is known about the overlap or differences in the processes underlying perceptual versus value-based decisions. We analyzed EEG recordings during a paradigm where perceptual- and value-based choices were based on identical stimuli. For both types of choice, evidence accumulation was evident in parietal gamma-frequency oscillations, whereas a similar frontal signal was unique for value-based decisions. Fronto-parietal synchronization of these signals predicted value-based choice accuracy. These findings uncover how decisions emerge from topographic- and frequency-specific oscillations that accumulate distinct aspects of evidence, with large-scale synchronization as a mechanism integrating these spatially distributed signals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Electroencephalography Phase Synchronization / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Young Adult