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Posterior parietal cortex guides visual decisions in rats

By Angela M. Licata, Matthew T. Kaufman, David Raposo, Michael B. Ryan, John P. Sheppard, Anne K. Churchland

Posted 29 Jul 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/066639 (published DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0105-17.2017)

Neurons in putative decision-making structures can reflect both sensory and decision signals, making their causal role in decisions unclear. Here, we tested whether rat posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is causal for processing visual sensory signals or instead for accumulating evidence for decision alternatives. We optogenetically disrupted PPC activity during decision-making and compared effects on decisions guided by auditory vs. visual evidence. Deficits were largely restricted to visual decisions. To further test for visual dominance in PPC, we evaluated electrophysiological responses following individual sensory events and observed much larger responses following visual stimuli than auditory stimuli. Finally, we measured spike count variability during stimulus presentation and decision formation. This sharply decreased, suggesting the network is stabilized by inputs, unlike what would be expected if sensory signals were locally accumulated. Our findings argue that PPC plays a causal role in discriminating visual signals that are accumulated elsewhere.

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