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Can we directly observe stages of cognitive processing? EEG-based identification of evidence accumulation stages

Hermine Berberyan
University of Groningen ~ Bernoulli Institute
Leendert Van Maanen
Utrecht University, The Netherlands ~ Psychology
Hedderik van Rijn
University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Dr. Jelmer Borst
University of Groningen ~ Artificial Intelligence

Traditionally, processing stages were investigated using behavioral measurements. To better capture the ongoing process, researchers have recently turned to neuroimaging methods instead. In that frame, a novel machine learning algorithm, hidden semi-Markov model multivariate pattern analysis was introduced (HsMM-MVPA; Anderson, Zhang, Borst, & Walsh, 2016). The goal of the current project was to validate HsMM-MVPA as a method for discovering stages directly from EEG data. To that end, two simple visual discrimination tasks were designed in which perceptual processing and decision difficulty were manipulated. For comparison with standard RT-based methods, the HsMM-MVPA analysis was complemented with evidence accumulation models (EAMs). The results of the analysis revealed that five-state HsMMs accounted for the data in all tasks. The brain activation of one of those stages was dependent on perceptual processing, while the brain activation and the duration of two other stages were dependent on decision difficulty. Consistent with the HsMM-MVPA results, EAMs showed that non-decision time varied with perceptual difficulty and drift rate value with decision difficulty, respectively. Additionally, non-decision and decision time of the EAMs correlated highly with the first two and the last three stages of the HsMM-MVPA analysis, respectively, indicating that the HsMM-MVPA analysis gives a more detailed description of stages discovered with this more classical method. Our conclusion is, therefore, that cognitive stages can be directly inferred from EEG data with the HsMM-MVPA analysis.



Hidden semi-Markov models
multivariate pattern analysis
evidence accumulation models
stage discovery.

Hello Berberyan, thank you for your talk and associated JOCN paper. I think this work is a great contribution to the study of decision-making and neurocognitive modeling. Do you know the correlation of stages 3, 4, and 5 to non-decision time? I could not find them in your paper. Most researchers expect that non-decision time should be related t...

Michael D. Nunez 3 comments
Cite this as:

Berberyan, H. S., Van Maanen, L., van Rijn, H., & Borst, J. (2021, July). Can we directly observe stages of cognitive processing? EEG-based identification of evidence accumulation stages. Paper presented at Virtual MathPsych/ICCM 2021. Via