Uncertainty-dependent activity within the ventral striatum predicts task-related changes in response strategy Article

Buzzell, GA, Roberts, DM, Fedota, JR et al. (2016). Uncertainty-dependent activity within the ventral striatum predicts task-related changes in response strategy . COGNITIVE AFFECTIVE & BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE, 16(2), 219-233. 10.3758/s13415-015-0383-2

cited authors

  • Buzzell, GA; Roberts, DM; Fedota, JR; Thompson, JC; Parasuraman, R; McDonald, CG



  • Recent neuroimaging work has demonstrated that the ventral striatum (VS) encodes confidence in perceptual decisions. However, it remains unclear whether perceptual uncertainty can signal the need to adapt behavior (such as by responding more cautiously) and whether such behavioral changes are related to uncertainty-dependent activity within the VS. Changes in response strategy have previously been observed following errors and are associated with both medial frontal cortex (MFC) and VS, two components of the performance-monitoring network. If uncertainty can elicit changes in response strategy (slowing), then one might hypothesize that these changes rely on the performance-monitoring network. In the present study, we investigated the link between perceptual uncertainty and task-related behavioral adaptations (response slowing and accuracy increases), as well as how such behavioral changes relate to uncertainty-dependent activity within MFC and VS. Our participants performed a two-choice perceptual decision-making task in which perceptual uncertainty was reported on each trial while behavioral and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected. Analysis of the behavioral data revealed that uncertain (but correct) responses led to slowing on subsequent trials, a phenomenon that was positively correlated with increased accuracy. Critically, post-uncertainty slowing was negatively correlated with the VS activity elicited by uncertain responses. In agreement with previous reports, increases in MFC activation were observed for uncertain responses, although MFC activity was not correlated with post-uncertainty slowing. These results suggest that perceptual uncertainty can serve as a signal to adapt one’s response strategy and that such behavioral changes are closely tied to the VS, a key node in the performance-monitoring network.

publication date

  • April 1, 2016

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 219

end page

  • 233


  • 16


  • 2