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PLoS One. 2011 Mar 3;6(3):e16749. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016749.

Dynamic integration of reward and stimulus information in perceptual decision-making.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.

Abstract

In perceptual decision-making, ideal decision-makers should bias their choices toward alternatives associated with larger rewards, and the extent of the bias should decrease as stimulus sensitivity increases. When responses must be made at different times after stimulus onset, stimulus sensitivity grows with time from zero to a final asymptotic level. Are decision makers able to produce responses that are more biased if they are made soon after stimulus onset, but less biased if they are made after more evidence has been accumulated? If so, how close to optimal can they come in doing this, and how might their performance be achieved mechanistically? We report an experiment in which the payoff for each alternative is indicated before stimulus onset. Processing time is controlled by a "go" cue occurring at different times post stimulus onset, requiring a response within msec. Reward bias does start high when processing time is short and decreases as sensitivity increases, leveling off at a non-zero value. However, the degree of bias is sub-optimal for shorter processing times. We present a mechanistic account of participants' performance within the framework of the leaky competing accumulator model [1], in which accumulators for each alternative accumulate noisy information subject to leakage and mutual inhibition. The leveling off of accuracy is attributed to mutual inhibition between the accumulators, allowing the accumulator that gathers the most evidence early in a trial to suppress the alternative. Three ways reward might affect decision making in this framework are considered. One of the three, in which reward affects the starting point of the evidence accumulation process, is consistent with the qualitative pattern of the observed reward bias effect, while the other two are not. Incorporating this assumption into the leaky competing accumulator model, we are able to provide close quantitative fits to individual participant data.

PMID:
21390225
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3048391
Free PMC Article

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