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Focal optogenetic suppression in macaque area MT biases direction discrimination and decision confidence, but only transiently

Fetsch, Christopher R.; Odean, Naomi N.; Jeurissen, Danique; El-Shamayleh, Yasmine; Horwitz, Gregory D.; Shadlen, Michael Neil

Insights from causal manipulations of brain activity depend on targeting the spatial and temporal scales most relevant for behavior. Using a sensitive perceptual decision task in monkeys, we examined the effects of rapid, reversible inactivation on a spatial scale previously achieved only with electrical microstimulation. Inactivating groups of similarly tuned neurons in area MT produced systematic effects on choice and confidence. Behavioral effects were attenuated over the course of each session, suggesting compensatory adjustments in the downstream readout of MT over tens of minutes. Compensation also occurred on a sub-second time scale: behavior was largely unaffected when the visual stimulus (and concurrent suppression) lasted longer than 350 ms. These trends were similar for choice and confidence, consistent with the idea of a common mechanism underlying both measures. The findings demonstrate the utility of hyperpolarizing opsins for linking neural population activity at fine spatial and temporal scales to cognitive functions in primates.

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Neuroscience
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November 19, 2018
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