Changes of mind in an attractor network of decision-making

Larissa Albantakis, Gustavo Deco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Attractor networks successfully account for psychophysical and neurophysiological data in various decision-making tasks. Especially their ability to model persistent activity, a property of many neurons involved in decision-making, distinguishes them from other approaches. Stable decision attractors are, however, counterintuitive to changes of mind. Here we demonstrate that a biophysically-realistic attractor network with spiking neurons, in its itinerant transients towards the choice attractors, can replicate changes of mind observed recently during a two-alternative random-dot motion (RDM) task. Based on the assumption that the brain continues to evaluate available evidence after the initiation of a decision, the network predicts neural activity during changes of mind and accurately simulates reaction times, performance and percentage of changes dependent on difficulty. Moreover, the model suggests a low decision threshold and high incoming activity that drives the brain region involved in the decision-making process into a dynamical regime close to a bifurcation, which up to now lacked evidence for physiological relevance. Thereby, we further affirmed the general conformance of attractor networks with higher level neural processes and offer experimental predictions to distinguish nonlinear attractor from linear diffusion models.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1002086
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

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