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Attention modifies the weights of competing stimulus sources during integrated visual decision making

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Virtually every aspect of waking life requires a decision. The ability to decide on the basis of multiple goal-relevant signals while ignoring distractors is a hallmark of adaptive, intelligent behaviour. While attention and decision-making processes have been well characterised in isolation, much less is known about how the two interact. Here I will describe a novel approach for investigating how observers combine task-relevant signals from two or more sources into a single, integrated decision. In a typical version of the task, observers are required to reproduce the average motion direction of two consecutively presented target-motion patches, while we record brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG). Across a series of experiments we have investigated the influence of salient distractors on such integrated decisions, and have quantified the effects of variations in the strength of component motion signals. Using forward encoding modelling of the EEG data, we have also determined how neural signatures of the featural information carried by each target stimulus contribute to observers’ final, integrated decisions.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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