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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

August 2015, Vol. 27, No. 8, Pages 1492-1502
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00799)
© 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Preconscious Prediction of a Driver's Decision Using Intracranial Recordings
Article PDF (647.88 KB)

While driving, we make numerous conscious decisions such as route and turn direction selection. Although drivers are held responsible, the neural processes that govern such decisions are not clear. We recorded intracranial EEG signals from six patients engaged in a computer-based driving simulator. Patients decided which way to turn (left/right) and subsequently reported the time of the decision. We show that power modulations of gamma band oscillations (30–100 Hz) preceding the reported time of decision (up to 5.5 sec) allow prediction of decision content with high accuracy (up to 82.4%) on a trial-by-trial basis, irrespective of subsequent motor output. Moreover, these modulations exhibited a spatiotemporal gradient, differentiating left/right decisions earliest in premotor cortices and later in more anterior and lateral regions. Our results suggest a preconscious role for the premotor cortices in early stages of decision-making, which permits foreseeing and perhaps modifying the content of real-life human choices before they are consciously made.