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Cortical Alpha Activity Predicts the Confidence in an Impending Action

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Health Research, Inc. @ Wadsworth Menands United States

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When we make a decision, we experience a degree of confidence that our choice may lead to a desirable outcome.Recent studies in animals have probed the subjective aspects of the choice confidence using confidence-reportingtasks. These studies showed that estimates of the choice confidence substantially modulate neural activity in multipleregions of the brain. Building on these findings, we investigated the neural representation of the confidence in achoice in humans who explicitly reported the confidence in their choice. Subjects performed a perceptual decisiontask in which they decided between choosing a button press or a saccade while we recorded EEG activity. Followingeach choice, subjects indicated whether they were sure or unsure about the choice. We found that alpha activitystrongly encodes a subjects confidence level in a forthcoming button press choice. The neural effect of the subjectsconfidence was independent of the reaction time and independent of the sensory input modeled as a decision variable.Furthermore, the effect is not due to a general cognitive state, such as reward expectation, because the effect wasspecifically observed during button press choices and not during saccade choices. The neural effect of the confidencein the ensuing button press choice was strong enough that we could predict, from independent single trial neuralsignals, whether a subject was going to be sure or unsure of an ensuing button press choice. In sum, alpha activity inhuman cortex provides a window into the commitment to make a hand movement.

Descriptive Note:

Journal Article - Open Access

Supplementary Note:

Frontiers in Neuroscience , 9, 243, 01 Jan 0001, 01 Jan 0001,



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Approved For Public Release;

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