Neural Mechanisms of Post-error Adjustments of Decision Policy in Parietal Cortex

Neuron. 2016 Feb 3;89(3):658-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.027. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Humans often slow down after mistakes (post-error slowing [PES]), but the neural mechanism and adaptive role of PES remain controversial. We studied changes in the neural mechanisms of decision making after errors in humans and monkeys that performed a motion direction discrimination task. We found that PES is mediated by two factors: a reduction in sensitivity to sensory information and an increase in the decision bound. Both effects are implemented through dynamic changes in the decision-making process. Neuronal responses in the monkey lateral intraparietal area revealed that bound changes are implemented by decreasing an evidence-independent urgency signal. They also revealed a reduction in the rate of evidence accumulation, reflecting reduced sensitivity. These changes in the bound and sensitivity provide a quantitative account of choices and response times. We suggest that PES reflects an adaptive increase of decision bound in anticipation of maladaptive reductions in sensitivity to incoming evidence.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology