Neural signatures of evidence accumulation in temporal decisions

Nir Ofir*, Ayelet N. Landau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Cognitive models of interval timing can be formulated as an accumulation-to-bound process.1–5 However, the physiological manifestation of such processes has not yet been identified. We used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the neural responses of participants while they performed a temporal bisection task in which they were requested to categorize the duration of visual stimuli as short or long.6 We found that the stimulus-offset and response-locked activity depends on both stimulus duration and the participants’ decision. To relate this activity to the underlying cognitive processes, we used a drift-diffusion model.7 The model includes a noisy accumulator starting with the stimulus onset and a decision threshold. According to the model, a stimulus duration will be categorized as “long” if the accumulator reaches the threshold during stimulus presentation. Otherwise, it will be categorized as “short.” We found that at the offset of stimulus presentation, an EEG response marks the distance of the accumulator from the threshold. Therefore, this model offers an accurate description of our behavioral data as well as the EEG response using the same two model parameters. We then replicated this finding in an identical experiment conducted in the tactile domain. We also extended this finding to two different temporal ranges (sub- and supra-second). Taken together, the work provides a new way to study the cognitive processes underlying temporal decisions, using a combination of behavior, EEG, and modeling.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4093-4100.e6
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • CPP
  • EEG
  • P300
  • decision making
  • drift-diffusion models
  • evidence accumulation
  • interval timing
  • temporal bisection
  • time perception


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