January 20, 2021

A neural turning point – the EEG P3 component tracks unfolding changes of mind

The ability to change one’s mind is a key feature of human cognition. Yet, the neural mechanisms underpinning our capacity to change our minds remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated the neural correlates of evidence accumulation and changes of mind in a two-step sequential sampling task. Participants provided a first, quick guess regarding the relative frequencies of target letters in a visual stream, followed by a slower, more deliberate decision. We found that the P3 amplitude evoked by successive target letters tracks an internal signed decision variable and predicts choices on a single-trial level. Moreover, this neural decision variable offers new insights into the dynamics of changes of mind. In particular, we show that the start of evidence accumulation after the early decision constitutes a neural turning point: the P3 evoked by the first letter contrary to the initial decision can be used to predict subsequent changes of mind. Our results highlight a critical interaction between the processing of external evidence and endogenous modulations of decisional parameters that facilitate reversing an original decision.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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