Three challenges for connecting model to mechanism in decision-making

Anne K. Churchland, Roozbeh Kiani

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent years have seen a growing interest in understanding the neural mechanisms that support decision-making. The advent of new tools for measuring and manipulating neurons, alongside the inclusion of multiple new animal models and sensory systems has led to the generation of many novel datasets. The potential for these new approaches to constrain decision-making models is unprecedented. Here, we argue that to fully leverage these new approaches, three challenges must be met. First, experimenters must design well-controlled behavioral experiments that make it possible to distinguish competing behavioral strategies. Second, analyses of neural responses should think beyond single neurons, taking into account tradeoffs of single-trial versus trial-averaged approaches. Finally, quantitative model comparisons should be used, but must consider common obstacles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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