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Dynamic task-belief is an integral part of decision-making
Neuron  (IF18.688),  Pub Date : 2022-06-13, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2022.05.010
Cheng Xue, Lily E. Kramer, Marlene R. Cohen

Natural decisions involve two seemingly separable processes: inferring the relevant task (task-belief) and performing the believed-relevant task. The assumed separability has led to the traditional practice of studying task-switching and perceptual decision-making individually. Here, we used a novel paradigm to manipulate and measure macaque monkeys’ task-belief and demonstrated inextricable neuronal links between flexible task-belief and perceptual decision-making. We showed that in animals, but not in artificial networks that performed as well or better than the animals, stronger task-belief is associated with better perception. Correspondingly, recordings from neuronal populations in cortical areas 7a and V1 revealed that stronger task-belief is associated with better discriminability of the believed-relevant, but not the believed-irrelevant, feature. Perception also impacts belief updating; noise fluctuations in V1 help explain how task-belief is updated. Our results demonstrate that complex tasks and multi-area recordings can reveal fundamentally new principles of how biology affects behavior in health and disease.