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Phil Holmes : The neural dynamics of decision making: multiple scales in a single brain

I will describe a range of models, from the cellular to cortical scales, that illuminate how we perceive stimuli and make decisions. Large networks composed of individual spiking neurons can capture biophysical details of neuromodulation and synaptic transmission, but their complexity renders them opaque to analysis. Employing methods of mean field and dynamical systems theory, I will argue that these high-dimensional stochastic differential equations can be reduced to simple drift-diffusion processes used by cognitive psychologists to fit behavioral data. This allows us to relate them to optimal methods from statistical decision theory, and prompts new questions on why we fail to make good choices.

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