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Note: Research in this publication was not performed at Janelia.
The ability of animals to accumulate sensory information across time is fundamental to decision-making. Using a mouse behavioral paradigm where navigational decisions are based on accumulating pulses of visual cues, I compared neural activity in primary visual (V1) to secondary visual and retrosplenial cortices. Even in V1, only a small fraction of neurons had sensory-like responses to cues. Instead, all areas were grossly similar in how neural populations contained a large variety of task-related information from sensory to cognitive, including cue timings, accumulated counts, place/time, decision and reward outcome. Across-trial influences were prevalent, possibly relevant to how animal behavior incorporates past contexts. Intriguingly, all these variables also modulated the amplitudes of sensory responses. While previous work often modeled the accumulation process as integration, the observed scaling of sensory responses by accumulated counts instead suggests a recursive process where sensory responses are gradually amplified. I show that such a multiplicative feedback-loop algorithm better explains psychophysical data than integration, particularly in how the performance transitions into following Weber-Fechner's Law only at high counts.