Perceptual decisions vary in the speed at which we make them. Evidence suggests that translating sensory information into perceptual decisions relies on distributed interacting neural populations, with decision speed hinging on power modulations of the neural oscillations. Yet the dependence of perceptual decisions on the large-scale network organization of coupled neural oscillations has remained elusive. We measured magnetoencephalographic signals in human listeners who judged acoustic stimuli composed of carefully titrated clouds of tone sweeps. These stimuli were used in two task contexts, in which the participants judged the overall pitch or direction of the tone sweeps. We traced the large-scale network dynamics of the source-projected neural oscillations on a trial-by-trial basis using power-envelope correlations and graph-theoretical network discovery. In both tasks, faster decisions were predicted by higher segregation and lower integration of coupled beta-band (∼16–28 Hz) oscillations. We also uncovered the brain network states that promoted faster decisions in either lower-order auditory or higher-order control brain areas. Specifically, decision speed in judging the tone sweep direction critically relied on the nodal network configurations of anterior temporal, cingulate, and middle frontal cortices. Our findings suggest that global network communication during perceptual decision-making is implemented in the human brain by large-scale couplings between beta-band neural oscillations.The speed at which we make perceptual decisions varies. This translation of sensory information into perceptual decisions hinges on dynamic changes in neural oscillatory activity. However, the large-scale neural-network embodiment supporting perceptual decision-making is unclear. We addressed this question by experimenting two auditory perceptual decision-making situations. Using graph-theoretical network discovery, we traced the large-scale network dynamics of coupled neural oscillations to uncover the brain network states that support the speed of auditory perceptual decisions. We found that higher network segregation of coupled beta-band oscillations supports faster auditory perceptual decisions over trials. Moreover, when auditory perceptual decisions are relatively difficult, the decision speed benefits from higher segregation of frontal cortical areas, but lower segregation and greater integration of auditory cortical areas.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)