Weber's law in decision making: integrating behavioral data in humans with a neurophysiological model

TitleWeber's law in decision making: integrating behavioral data in humans with a neurophysiological model
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsDeco G, Scarano L, Soto-Faraco S
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Date Published10/2005
KeywordsAdolescent, Adult, Decision Making, Decision Making: physiology, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials: physiology, Humans, Models, Nerve Net, Nerve Net: physiology, Neurological, Psychological, Systems Integration

Recent single-cell studies in monkeys (Romo et al., 2004) show that the activity of neurons in the ventral premotor cortex covaries with the animal's decisions in a perceptual comparison task regarding the frequency of vibrotactile events. The firing rate response of these neurons was dependent only on the frequency differences between the two applied vibrations, the sign of that difference being the determining factor for correct task performance. We present a biophysically realistic neurodynamical model that can account for the most relevant characteristics of this decision-making-related neural activity. One of the nontrivial predictions of this model is that Weber's law will underlie the perceptual discrimination behavior. We confirmed this prediction in behavioral tests of vibrotactile discrimination in humans and propose a computational explanation of perceptual discrimination that accounts naturally for the emergence of Weber's law. We conclude that the neurodynamical mechanisms and computational principles underlying the decision-making processes in this perceptual discrimination task are consistent with a fluctuation-driven scenario in a multistable regime.