Neural dynamics and circuit mechanisms of decision-making

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In this review, I briefly summarize current neurobiological studies of decision-making that bear on two general themes. The first focuses on the nature of neural representation and dynamics in a decision circuit. Experimental and computational results suggest that ramping-to-threshold in the temporal domain and trajectory of population activity in the state space represent a duality of perspectives on a decision process. Moreover, a decision circuit can display several different dynamical regimes, such as the ramping mode and the jumping mode with distinct defining properties. The second is concerned with the relationship between biologically-based mechanistic models and normative-type models. A fruitful interplay between experiments and these models at different levels of abstraction have enabled investigators to pose increasingly refined questions and gain new insights into the neural basis of decision-making. In particular, recent work on multi-alternative decisions suggests that deviations from rational models of choice behavior can be explained by established neural mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1039-1046
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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