New research on monkeys suggests that the brain is hard-wired to mull over decisions even after they’ve been made.
The researchers, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute international research scholar Ranulfo Romo, reported their findings in the October 16, 2007, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Romo and his colleagues are at the National Autonomous University of Mexico….
“To our surprise, when the monkeys held the decision for several seconds, what we saw in the activity of these brain cells in the medial premotor cortex is that they were still remembering the sensory information on which the decision was based,” said Romo. “During that time the neurons were recalling the first stimulus, recalling the second, comparing the second against the first, and even reporting in their activity the categorical decision.”
The researchers’ measurements showed that neurons in the medial premotor cortex were switching back and forth between encoding the sensory information and the decision. “It is a dynamic process, as if the monkeys were constantly trying to revise or update their decision. So, whether it is conscious or unconscious, the working memory is still `brewing’ the perceptions that led to the categorical decision,” he said.
So it’s not just me being wishy-washy.