Short review: P. Glimcher (2003). The neurobiology of visual saccadic decision making, Annual Review of Neurosceince, t. 25, p. 133-179


P. Glimcher (2003). The neurobiology of visual saccadic decision making, Annual Review of Neurosceince, t. 25, p. 133-179, przekład polski: A. Wojciechowski w „Formy aktywności umysłu ujęcie kognitywistyczne” , t. 2 Ewolucja I złożone struktury p0znawcze, red. naukowa Andrzej Klawiter.


As the authors says “over the past two decades significant progress has been made toward understanding the neural basis of primate decision making, the biological process that combines sensory data with stored information to select and execute behavioral responses.” In the article the author shows the scale of the progress that has been made in studies of visual-saccadic decision making, a system that is becoming a model for understanding decision making in general.

Moreover examples are given how theoretical models of efficient decision making developed in the social sciences are beginning to be used to describe the computations the brain must perform when it connects sensation and action. Using these economic models, neurophysiologists have been able to describe neuronal activity recorded from the brains of awake-behaving primates during actual decision making. These recent studies have examined the neural basis of decisions, ranging from those made in predictable sensorimotor tasks to those unpredictable decisions made when animals are engaged in strategic conflict. All of these experiments seem to describe a surprisingly well-integrated set of physiological mechanisms that can account for a broad range of behavioral phenomena. The subject article presents many of these recent studies within the emerging neuroeconomic framework for understanding primate decision making.

The progress in understanding spinal reflexes represented a first step in the psychological study of decision making. Reflex studies provided a model for understanding the simplest possible generative mechanism for behavior, a mechanism with which sensory stimuli could be used to trigger motor responses. The mechanism that underlie other classes of behavior, however remained largely unexplored, by psychology until recently.

There are three classes of behavioral decision making are specified:

Deterministic sensorimotor behaviors. Here the huge progress has been made.

Deterministic (or predictable) behaviors which are controlled by a mixture of sensory and nonsensory signals. These are bahaviors in which decision making is influenced bvby factors like the estimated value of a motor response ot by probabilistic estimates of the current state of the external world.

Stochastic (unpredictable) decision making. These also also begun to be studies psychologically.


 The article presents quite detailed research on neurobiology and psychology of the simplest decision. However the more general idea is expressed in I personally share. When studying more and more complex decision making all of them are computable (deterministic sensu largo or probabilistically deterministic). As the authors says” these studies of stochastic behaviors are beginning to suggest that even this class of decision making may soon be understandable, at the mechanistic level, in terms of indentifiable cellular level computations performed within a defined neural architecture”.


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