Rat performance on visual detection task modeled with divisive normalization and adaptive decision thresholds.
ABSTRACT Performance on any perceptual task depends on both the perceptual capacity and the decision strategy of the subject. We provide a model to fit both aspects and apply it to data from rats performing a detection task. When rats must detect a faint visual target, the presence of other nearby stimuli ("flankers") increases the difficulty of the task. In this study, we consider two specific factors. First, flankers could diminish the sensory response to the target via spatial contrast normalization in early visual processing. Second, rats may treat the sensory signal caused by the flankers as if it belonged to the target. We call this source confusion, which may be sensory, cognitive, or both. We account for contrast normalization and source confusion by fitting model parameters to the likelihood of the observed behavioral data. We test multiple combinations of target and flanker contrasts using a yes/no detection task. Contrast normalization was crucial to explain the rats' flanker-induced detection impairment. By adding a decision variable to the contrast normalization framework, our model provides a new tool to assess differences in visual or cognitive brain function between normal and abnormal rodents.
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ABSTRACT: The study of perceptual decision-making offers insight into how the brain uses complex, sometimes ambiguous information to guide actions. Understanding the underlying processes and their neural bases requires that one pair recordings and manipulations of neural activity with rigorous psychophysics. Though this research has been traditionally performed in primates, it seems increasingly promising to pursue it at least partly in mice and rats. However, rigorous psychophysical methods are not yet as developed for these rodents as they are for primates. Here we give a brief overview of the sensory capabilities of rodents and of their cortical areas devoted to sensation and decision. We then review methods of psychophysics, focusing on the technical issues that arise in their implementation in rodents. These methods represent a rich set of challenges and opportunities.Nature Neuroscience 06/2013; 16(7):824-831. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Electrophysiology in primates has implicated long-range neural coherence as a potential mechanism for enhancing sensory detection. To test whether local synchronization and long-range neural coherence supports detection performance in rats, we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) in frontal and parietal cortex while rats performed an auditory detection task. We observed significantly elevated power at multiple low frequencies (<15 Hz) preceding the target beep when the animal failed to respond to the signal (misses), in both frontal and parietal cortex. In terms of long-range coherence, we observed significantly more frontal-parietal coherence in the beta band (15-30 Hz) before the signal on misses, as compared to hits. This effect persisted after regressing away linear trends in the coherence values during a session, showing that the excess frontal-parietal beta coherence prior to misses cannot be explained by slow motivational changes during a session. In addition, a trend toward higher low-frequency (<15 Hz) coherence prior to miss trials compared to hits became highly significant when we re-referenced the LFPs to the mean voltage on each recording array, suggesting the results are specific to our frontal and parietal areas. These results do not support a role for long-range frontal-parietal coherence or local synchronization in facilitating the detection of external stimuli. Rather, they extend to long-range frontal-parietal coherence previous findings that correlate local synchronization of low-frequency (<15 Hz) oscillations with inattention to external stimuli, and synchronization of beta rhythms (15-30 Hz) with voluntary or involuntary prolongation of the current cognitive or motor state.Journal of Neurophysiology 02/2014; · 3.30 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The potential of genetically engineered rodent models has accelerated demand for training procedures of behavioral tasks. Such training is generally time consuming and often shows large variability in learning speed between animals. To overcome these problems, we developed an efficient and stable training system for the two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) visual stimulus detection task for freely behaving rodents. To facilitate the task learning, we introduced a spout-lever as the operandum and a three-step training program with four ingenuities: (1) a salient stimulus to draw passive attention, (2) a reward-guaranteed trial to keep motivation, (3) a behavior-corrective trial, and (4) switching from a reward-guaranteed trial to a nonguaranteed one to correct behavioral patterns. Our new training system realizes 1-week completion of the whole learning process, during which all rats were able to learn effortlessly the association between (1) lever-manipulation and reward and (2) visual stimulus and reward in a step-by-step manner. Thus, our new system provides an effective and stable training method for the 2AFC visual stimulus detection task. This method should help accelerate the move toward research bridging the visual functions measured in behavioral tasks and the contributing specific neurons/networks that are genetically manipulated or optically controlled.Physiological Reports. 07/2014; 2(7).