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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

October 2016, Vol. 28, No. 10, Pages 1501-1521
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00989)
© 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linking Theoretical Decision-making Mechanisms in the Simon Task with Electrophysiological Data: A Model-based Neuroscience Study in Humans
Article PDF (2.23 MB)

A current challenge for decision-making research is in extending models of simple decisions to more complex and ecological choice situations. Conflict tasks (e.g., Simon, Stroop, Eriksen flanker) have been the focus of much interest, because they provide a decision-making context representative of everyday life experiences. Modeling efforts have led to an elaborated drift diffusion model for conflict tasks (DMC), which implements a superimposition of automatic and controlled decision activations. The DMC has proven to capture the diversity of behavioral conflict effects across various task contexts. This study combined DMC predictions with EEG and EMG measurements to test a set of linking propositions that specify the relationship between theoretical decision-making mechanisms involved in the Simon task and brain activity. Our results are consistent with a representation of the superimposed decision variable in the primary motor cortices. The decision variable was also observed in the EMG activity of response agonist muscles. These findings provide new insight into the neurophysiology of human decision-making. In return, they provide support for the DMC model framework.