Parietal Cortex Is Required for the Integration of Acoustic Evidence.Curr Biol. 2020 Jun 24 [Online ahead of print]CB
Sensory-driven decisions are formed by accumulating information over time. Although parietal cortex activity is thought to represent accumulated evidence for sensory-based decisions, recent perturbation studies in rodents and non-human primates have challenged the hypothesis that these representations actually influence behavior. Here, we asked whether the parietal cortex integrates acoustic features from auditory cortical inputs during a perceptual decision-making task. If so, we predicted that selective inactivation of this projection should impair subjects' ability to accumulate sensory evidence. We trained gerbils to perform an auditory discrimination task and obtained measures of integration time as a readout of evidence accumulation capability. Minimum integration time was calculated behaviorally as the shortest stimulus duration for which subjects could discriminate the acoustic signals. Direct pharmacological inactivation of parietal cortex increased minimum integration times, suggesting its role in the behavior. To determine the specific impact of sensory evidence, we chemogenetically inactivated the excitatory projections from auditory cortex to parietal cortex and found this was sufficient to increase minimum behavioral integration times. Our signal-detection-theory-based model accurately replicated behavioral outcomes and indicated that the deficits in task performance were plausibly explained by elevated sensory noise. Together, our findings provide causal evidence that parietal cortex plays a role in the network that integrates auditory features for perceptual judgments.