Probabilistic computation in human perception under variability in encoding precision

Shaiyan Keshvari, Ronald van den Berg, Wei Ji Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A key function of the brain is to interpret noisy sensory information. To do so optimally, observers must, in many tasks, take into account knowledge of the precision with which stimuli are encoded. In an orientation change detection task, we find that encoding precision does not only depend on an experimentally controlled reliability parameter (shape), but also exhibits additional variability. In spite of variability in precision, human subjects seem to take into account precision near-optimally on a trial-to-trial and item-to-item basis. Our results offer a new conceptualization of the encoding of sensory information and highlight the brain's remarkable ability to incorporate knowledge of uncertainty during complex perceptual decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere40216
JournalPloS one
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 29 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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