High quality but limited quantity perceptual evidence produces neural accumulation in frontal and parietal cortex

Elisabeth J. Ploran, Joshua J. Tremel, Steven M. Nelson, Mark E. Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Goal-directed perceptual decisions involve the analysis of sensory inputs, the extraction and accumulation of evidence, and the commitment to a choice. Previous neuroimaging studies of perceptual decision making have identified activity related to accumulation in parietal, inferior temporal, and frontal regions. However, such effects may be related to factors other than the integration of evidence over time, such as changes in the quantity of stimulus input and in attentional demands leading up to a decision. The current study tested an accumulation account using 2 manipulations. First, to test whether patterns of accumulation can be explained by changes in the quantity of sensory information, objects were revealed with a high quality but consistent quantity of evidence throughout the trial. Imaging analysis revealed patterns of accumulation in frontal and parietal regions but not in inferior temporal regions. This result supports a framework in which evidence is processed in sensory cortex and integrated over time in higher order cortical areas. Second, to test whether accumulation signals are driven by attentional demands, task difficulty was increased on some trials. This manipulation did not affect the nature of accumulating functional magnetic resonance imaging signals, indicating that accumulating signals are not necessarily driven by changes in attentional demand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2650-2662
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • evidence accumulation
  • fMRI
  • object recognition
  • perceptual decision making


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