Neural Mechanisms of Post-error Adjustments of Decision Policy in Parietal Cortex

Braden A. Purcell, Roozbeh Kiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans often slow down after mistakes (post-error slowing [PES]), but the neural mechanism and adaptive role of PES remain controversial. We studied changes in the neural mechanisms of decision making after errors in humans and monkeys that performed a motion direction discrimination task. We found that PES is mediated by two factors: a reduction in sensitivity to sensory information and an increase in the decision bound. Both effects are implemented through dynamic changes in the decision-making process. Neuronal responses in the monkey lateral intraparietal area revealed that bound changes are implemented by decreasing an evidence-independent urgency signal. They also revealed a reduction in the rate of evidence accumulation, reflecting reduced sensitivity. These changes in the bound and sensitivity provide a quantitative account of choices and response times. We suggest that PES reflects an adaptive increase of decision bound in anticipation of maladaptive reductions in sensitivity to incoming evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-671
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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