Modulation of saccade vigor during value–based decision making

Thomas R. Reppert, Karolina M. Lempert, Paul W. Glimcher, Reza Shadmehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During value– based decision– making, individuals consider the various options and select the one that provides the maximum subjective value. Although the brain integrates abstract information to compute and compare these values, the only behavioral outcome is often the decision itself. However, if the options are visual stimuli, during deliberation the brain moves the eyes from one stimulus to the other. Previous work suggests that saccade vigor, i.e., peak velocity as a function of amplitude, is greater if reward is associated with the visual stimulus. This raises the possibility that vigor during the free viewing of options may be influenced by the valuation of each option. Here, humans chose between a small, immediate monetary reward and a larger but delayed reward. As the deliberation began, vigor was similar for the saccades made to the two options but diverged 0.5 s before decision time, becoming greater for the preferred option. This difference in vigor increased as a function of the difference in the subjective values that the participant assigned to the delayed and immediate options. After the decision was made, participants continued to gaze at the options, but with reduced vigor, making it possible to infer timing of the decision from the sudden drop in vigor. Therefore, the subjective value that the brain assigned to a stimulus during decision– making affected the motor system via the vigor with which the eyes moved toward that stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15369-15378
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 18 2015


  • Impulsivity
  • Motor control
  • Reward
  • Saccade
  • Temporal discounting
  • Vigor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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