William T. Newsome

Stanford University School of Medicine

Neural Population Dynamics in Prefrontal Cortex Indicate Changes-of-mind on Single Behavioral Trials

12:00 pm, Thursday 12 November 2015

Location: Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Abstract: The neural mechanisms underlying decision-making are typically examined by statistical analysis of large numbers of trials from sequentially recorded single neurons. Averaging across sequential recordings, however, obscures important aspects of decision-making such as ‘changes of mind’ (CoM) that occur at variable times on different trials. I will show that the covert decision variables (DV) can be tracked dynamically on single behavioral trials via simultaneous recording of large neural populations in prefrontal cortex. Vacillations of the neural DV, in turn, identify candidate CoM in monkeys, and show that they closely match the known properties of human CoM. Thus simultaneous population recordings can provide insight into transient, internal cognitive states that are otherwise undetectable.

Biography: Bill Newsome is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He received a B.S. degree in physics from Stetson University and a PhD in Biology from Caltech. His numerous awards including the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics, the W. Alden Spencer Award, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, and the Karl Spencer Lashley Award. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

For further information please contact Fiona Woods at fiona.woods@cncb.ox.ac.uk