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In Frontiers in neuroscience ; h5-index 72.0

Vicarious trial and error behaviors (VTEs) indicate periods of indecision during decision-making, and have been proposed as a behavioral marker of deliberation. In order to understand the neural underpinnings of these putative bridges between behavior and neural dynamics, researchers need the ability to readily distinguish VTEs from non-VTEs. Here we utilize a small set of trajectory-based features and standard machine learning classifiers to identify VTEs from non-VTEs for rats performing a spatial delayed alternation task (SDA) on an elevated plus maze. We also show that previously reported features of the hippocampal field potential oscillation can be used in the same types of classifiers to separate VTEs from non-VTEs with above chance performance. However, we caution that the modest classifier success using hippocampal population dynamics does not identify many trials where VTEs occur, and show that combining oscillation-based features with trajectory-based features does not improve classifier performance compared to trajectory-based features alone. Overall, we propose a standard set of features useful for trajectory-based VTE classification in binary decision tasks, and support previous suggestions that VTEs are supported by a network including, but likely extending beyond, the hippocampus.

Miles Jesse T, Kidder Kevan S, Wang Ziheng, Zhu Yiru, Gire David H, Mizumori Sheri J Y


VTE, decision-making, gamma, hippocampus, machine learning, neural oscillations, theta, vicarious trial and error