Neural Mechanisms That Make Perceptual Decisions Flexible

Gouki Okazawa, Roozbeh Kiani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural mechanisms of perceptual decision making have been extensively studied in experimental settings that mimic stable environments with repeating stimuli, fixed rules, and payoffs. In contrast, we live in an ever-changing environment and have varying goals and behavioral demands. To accommodate variability, our brain flexibly adjusts decision-making processes depending on context. Here, we review a growing body of research that explores the neural mechanisms underlying this flexibility. We highlight diverse forms of context dependency in decision making implemented through a variety of neural computations. Context-dependent neural activity is observed in a distributed network of brain structures, including posterior parietal, sensory, motor, and subcortical regions, as well as the prefrontal areas classically implicated in cognitive control. We propose that investigating the distributed network underlying flexible decisions is key to advancing our understanding and discuss a path forward for experimental and theoretical investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-215
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Physiology
StatePublished - Feb 10 2023


  • decision policy
  • distributed neural networks
  • flexible decision making
  • sensory-guided behavior
  • stimulus-action mapping
  • task switch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural Mechanisms That Make Perceptual Decisions Flexible'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this