Article

Perceptual learning alters post-sensory processing in human decision-making

  • Nature Human Behaviour 1, Article number: 0035 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/s41562-016-0035
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Abstract

An emerging view in perceptual learning is that improvements in perceptual sensitivity are not only due to enhancements in early sensory representations but also due to changes in post-sensory decision-processing. In humans, however, direct neurobiological evidence of the latter remains scarce. Here, we trained participants on a visual categorization task over three days and used multivariate pattern analysis of the electroencephalogram to identify two temporally specific components encoding sensory (‘Early’) and decision (‘Late’) evidence, respectively. Importantly, the single-trial amplitudes of the Late, but not the Early component, were amplified in the course of training, and these enhancements predicted the behavioural improvements on the task. Correspondingly, we modelled these improvements with a reinforcement learning mechanism, using a reward prediction error signal to strengthen the readout of sensory evidence used for the decision. We validated this mechanism through a robust association between the model’s decision variables and the amplitudes of our Late component that encode decision evidence.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC; grant ES/L012995/1 to M.G.P.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, 58 Hillhead Street, G12 8QB, Glasgow, UK

    • Jessica A. Diaz
    • , Filippo Queirazza
    •  & Marios G. Philiastides

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Contributions

J.A.D. and M.G.P. designed the experiments. J.A.D. performed the experiments. J.A.D., F.Q. and M.G.P. analysed the data and wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marios G. Philiastides.