Noise and correlations in parallel perceptual decision making

Perceptual decisions involve the accumulation of sensory evidence over time, a process that is corrupted by noise [1]. Here, we extend the decision-making framework to crossmodal research [2, 3] and the parallel processing of two distinct signals presented to different sensory modalities like vision and audition. Contrary to the widespread view that multisensory signals are integrated prior to a single decision [4-10], we show that evidence is accumulated for each signal separately and that consequent decisions are flexibly coupled by logical operations. We find that the strong correlation of response latencies from trial to trial is critical to explain the short latencies of multisensory decisions. Most critically, we show that increased noise in multisensory decisions is needed to explain the mean and the variability of response latencies. Precise knowledge of these key factors is fundamental for the study and understanding of parallel decision processes with multisensory signals.

Otto TU, & Mamassian P (2012). Noise and correlations in parallel perceptual decision making. Current Biology, 22(15): 1391-1396.

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