Aug 2023

Uncovering the evidence for perceptual decision making

Speaker: Prof Thomas Carlson

31th August 2023

Abstract: Perceptual decision-making is a fundamental cognitive process that enables us to form judgments based on sensory information. The neural mechanisms underpinning perceptual decision-making have been extensively studied using various techniques, including behaviour, electrophysiology, and brain imaging. This body of research broadly suggests two significant components: the brain's representation of sensory evidence, and the integration of sensory evidence (or evidence accumulation) through higher-order decision processes. Much of the literature has concentrated on the latter, with the aim of comprehending higher-order decision mechanisms. Nevertheless, the sensory evidence is equally crucial, as higher-order decision processes depend on this information to make informed choices, potentially affecting late-stage decision-making processes. In this talk, I will discuss our prior work investigating the role of perceptual evidence in decision-making. In addition, I will discuss ongoing research from our laboratory that explores the role of visual perception in food-related decision-making behaviour. Collectively, this body of work underscores the significance of perception in decision-making and demonstrates how these findings can be expanded to enhance our understanding of behaviour relevant to society.

Bio: Dr. Thomas Carlson is a cognitive neuroscientist whose work has focused on the neural foundations of object perception, attention, and consciousness. In addition, he has been a pioneer in the development of multivariate pattern analysis methods (commonly known as neural decoding) for fMRI and M/EEG. He completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at the University of Minnesota. After a postdoc in the Harvard Vision Science Lab, he assumed his first academic position as an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland in 2008. In 2013, he relocated to Macquarie University and then to the University of Sydney in 2016. In 2022, he was promoted to Professor of Computational Cognitive Neuroscience in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. He is a former ARC Future Fellow and a past president of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

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