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Accumulation System: Distributed Neural Substrates of Perceptual Decision Making Revealed by fMRI Deconvolution
Journal of Neuroscience  (IF6.709),  Pub Date : 2022-06-15, DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.1062-21.2022
Yusuke Morito, Tsutomu Murata

Neural substrates of evidence accumulation have been a central issue in decision-making studies because of the prominent success of the accumulation model in explaining a wide range of perceptual decision making. Since accumulation-shaped activities have been found in multiple brain regions, which are called accumulators, questions regarding functional relations among these accumulators are emerging. This study employed the deconvolution method of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals from human male and female participants during object-category decision tasks, taking advantage of the whole-brain coverage of fMRI with improved availability of temporal information of the deconvolved activity. We detected the accumulation activity in many non-category-selective regions (NCSRs) over the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes as well as category-selective regions (CSRs) of the categorization task. Importantly, the frontal regions mostly showed activity peaks matching the decision timing (classified as "type-A accumulator"), while activity peaks of the parietal and temporal regions were behind the decision (classified as "type-B accumulator"). The CSRs showed activity peaks whose timing depended on both region and stimulus preference, plausibly reflecting the competition among the alternative choices (classified as "type-C accumulator"). The results suggest that these functionally heterogeneous accumulators form a system for evidence accumulation in which the type-A accumulator regions make decisions in a general manner while the type-B and type-C accumulator regions are employed depending on the modality and content of decision tasks. The concept of the accumulation system may provide a key to understanding the universality of the accumulation model over various kinds of decision tasks.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Perceptual decision making, such as deciding to walk or stop on seeing the signal colors, has been explained theoretically by the accumulation model, in which sensory information is accumulated to reach a certain threshold for making decisions. Neural substrates of this model, however, are still under elucidation among candidate regions found over the brain. We show here that, taking advantage of the whole-brain coverage of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with improving availability of temporal information by deconvolution method, the accumulation is conducted by a system comprising many regions in different abstraction levels and only a part of these regions in the frontal cortex make decisions. The system concept may provide a key to explaining the universality of the accumulation model.