Supplementary Eye Field Encodes Confidence in Decisions under Risk

Nayoung So, Veit Stuphorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Choices are made with varying degrees of confidence, a cognitive signal representing the subjective belief in the optimality of the choice. Confidence has been mostly studied in the context of perceptual judgments, in which choice accuracy can be measured using objective criteria. Here, we study confidence in subjective value-based decisions. We recorded in the supplementary eye field (SEF) of monkeys performing a gambling task, where they had to use subjective criteria for placing bets. We found neural signals in the SEF that explicitly represent choice confidence independent from reward expectation. This confidence signal appeared after the choice and diminished before the choice outcome. Most of this neuronal activity was negatively correlated with confidence, and was strongest in trials on which the monkey spontaneously withdrew his choice. Such confidence-related activity indicates that the SEF not only guides saccade selection, but also evaluates the likelihood that the choice was optimal. This internal evaluation influences decisions concerning the willingness to bear later costs that follow from the choice or to avoid them. More generally, our findings indicate that choice confidence is an integral component of all forms of decision-making, whether they are based on perceptual evidence or on value estimations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-782
Number of pages19
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Evaluation
  • Medial frontal cortex
  • Outcome
  • Primate
  • Saccade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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