Categorical evidence, confidence, and urgency during probabilistic categorization

Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 15;125:941-952. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.011. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


We used a temporally extended categorization task to investigate the neural substrates underlying our ability to integrate information over time and across multiple stimulus features. Using model-based fMRI, we tracked the temporal evolution of two important variables as participants deliberated about impending choices: (1) categorical evidence, and (2) confidence (the total amount of evidence provided by the stimuli, irrespective of the particular category favored). Importantly, in each model, we also included a covariate that allowed us to differentiate signals related to information accumulation from other, evidence-independent functions that increased monotonically with time (such as urgency or cognitive load). We found that somatomotor regions tracked the temporal evolution of categorical evidence, while regions in both medial and lateral prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal cortex, and the striatum tracked decision confidence. As both theory and experimental work suggest that patterns of activity thought to be related to information-accumulation may reflect, in whole or in part, an interaction between sensory evidence and urgency, we additionally investigated whether urgency might modulate the slopes of the two evidence-dependent functions. We found that the slopes of both functions were likely modulated by urgency such that the difference between the high and low evidence states increased as the response deadline loomed.

Keywords: Attention; Categorization; Confidence; Decision-making; fMRI.

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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Young Adult