Nature Reviews Neuroscience 7, 485-491 (June 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrn1933

OpinionSeeing at a glance, smelling in a whiff: rapid forms of perceptual decision making

Naoshige Uchida1,2, Adam Kepecs1 & Zachary F. Mainen1  About the authors


Intuitively, decisions should always improve with more time for the accumulation of evidence, yet psychophysical data show a limit of 200–300 ms for many perceptual tasks. Here, we consider mechanisms that favour such rapid information processing in vision and olfaction. We suggest that the brain limits some types of perceptual processing to short, discrete chunks (for example, eye fixations and sniffs) in order to facilitate the construction of global sensory images.

Author affiliations

  1. Naoshige Uchida, Adam Kepecs and Zachary F. Mainen are at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1 Bungtown Road, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.
  2. Naoshige Uchida is now at the Center for Brain Science and Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

Correspondence to: Zachary F. Mainen1 Email:


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