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