Evidence accumulation during a sensorimotor decision task revealed by whole-brain imaging

Nat Neurosci. 2020 Jan;23(1):85-93. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0535-8. Epub 2019 Dec 2.


Although animals can accumulate sensory evidence over considerable time scales to appropriately select behavior, little is known about how the vertebrate brain as a whole accomplishes this. In this study, we developed a new sensorimotor decision-making assay in larval zebrafish based on whole-field visual motion. Fish responded by swimming in the direction of perceived motion, such that the latency to initiate swimming and the fraction of correct turns were modulated by motion strength. Using whole-brain functional imaging, we identified neural activity relevant to different stages of the decision-making process, including the momentary evaluation and accumulation of sensory evidence. This activity is distributed in functional clusters across different brain regions and is characterized by a wide range of time constants. In addition, we found that the caudal interpeduncular nucleus (IPN), a circular structure located ventrally on the midline of the brain, reliably encodes the left and right turning rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Zebrafish