Attention and decisions: bridging the gap


April 18, 2017 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Northwest 243
About the Speaker
Jacqueline Gottlieb
Speaker Affiliation: 
Columbia University

Scores of behavioral and neurophysiological
studies support the idea that experience is constructed through acts of
selective attention or, in the words of William James, “my experience is what I
agree to attend to”. Compelling expressions of this fact are active sensing
behaviors, such as whisking, listening or looking, through which animals sample
information from task relevant cues. And yet, despite their ubiquity and
importance, active sampling strategies have yet to be computationally described
or incorporated in decision theories. This profound disconnect is especially
evident in studies of the monkey lateral intraparietal area (LIP), where the
same population of cells has been described from the perspective of attention
(as encoding a priority map for sampling informative cues), and attention-free
decision theories (as encoding action selection based on given sources
of information). I will discuss novel paradigms that prompt a reinterpretation
of the LIP responses as contributing to information strategies. I will discuss
the implications of these findings for mechanisms of top-down attention
control, and for the prospect of devising more realistic decision theories that
can account for informational constraints and the strategies that individuals
use to overcome these constraints.