Changes-of-mind in the absence of new post-decision evidence

Nadim Atiya, Arkady Zgonnikov, Denis O'Hora, Martin Schoemann, Stefan Scherbaum, KongFatt Wong-Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Decisions are occasionally accompanied by changes-of-mind. While considered a hallmark of cognitive flexibility, the mechanisms underlying changes-of-mind remain elusive. Previous studies on perceptual decision making have focused on changes-of-mind that are primarily driven by the accumulation of additional noisy sensory evidence after the initial decision. In a motion discrimination task, we demonstrate that changes-of-mind can occur even in the absence of additional evidence after the initial decision. Unlike previous studies of changes-of-mind, the majority of changes-of-mind in our experiment occurred in trials with prolonged initial response times. This suggests a distinct mechanism underlying such changes. Using a neural circuit model of decision uncertainty and change-of-mind behaviour, we demonstrate that this phenomenon is associated with top-down signals mediated by an uncertainty-monitoring neural population. Such a mechanism is consistent with recent neurophysiological evidence showing a link between changes-of-mind and elevated top-down neural activity. Our model explains the long response times associated with changes-of-mind through high decision uncertainty levels in such trials, and accounts for the observed motor response trajectories. Overall, our work provides a computational framework that explains changes-of-mind in the absence of new post-decision evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007149
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Feb 2020


  • decision making
  • cognitive science
  • change of mind
  • neural circuit model
  • psychophysics
  • process tracing
  • cognition
  • neural dynamics


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