Decoding the neural dynamics of free choice in humans

Thomas Thiery, Anne-Lise Saive, Etienne Combrisson, Arthur Dehgan, Julien Bastin, Philippe Kahane, Alain Berthoz, Jean-Philippe Lachaux, Karim Jerbi, Matthew F. S. Rushworth
2020 PLoS Biology  
How do we choose a particular action among equally valid alternatives? Nonhuman primate findings have shown that decision-making implicates modulations in unit firing rates and local field potentials (LFPs) across frontal and parietal cortices. Yet the electrophysiological brain mechanisms that underlie free choice in humans remain ill defined. Here, we address this question using rare intracerebral electroencephalography (EEG) recordings in surgical epilepsy patients performing a delayed
more » ... ing a delayed oculomotor decision task. We find that the temporal dynamics of high-gamma (HG, 60–140 Hz) neural activity in distinct frontal and parietal brain areas robustly discriminate free choice from instructed saccade planning at the level of single trials. Classification analysis was applied to the LFP signals to isolate decision-related activity from sensory and motor planning processes. Compared with instructed saccades, free-choice trials exhibited delayed and longer-lasting HG activity during the delay period. The temporal dynamics of the decision-specific sustained HG activity indexed the unfolding of a deliberation process, rather than memory maintenance. Taken together, these findings provide the first direct electrophysiological evidence in humans for the role of sustained high-frequency neural activation in frontoparietal cortex in mediating the intrinsically driven process of freely choosing among competing behavioral alternatives.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000864 pmid:33301439 fatcat:rg6exrsydjco3jkxnvaiv5ul3e