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Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 27;8:15958. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15958.

Reminders of past choices bias decisions for reward in humans.

Author information

1
Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.
2
Department of Economics, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
3
Department of Psychology and Zuckerman Mind, Brain, Behavior Institute, New York, New York 10027, USA.
4
Kavli Center for Brain Science, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
5
Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, USA.

Abstract

We provide evidence that decisions are made by consulting memories for individual past experiences, and that this process can be biased in favour of past choices using incidental reminders. First, in a standard rewarded choice task, we show that a model that estimates value at decision-time using individual samples of past outcomes fits choices and decision-related neural activity better than a canonical incremental learning model. In a second experiment, we bias this sampling process by incidentally reminding participants of individual past decisions. The next decision after a reminder shows a strong influence of the action taken and value received on the reminded trial. These results provide new empirical support for a decision architecture that relies on samples of individual past choice episodes rather than incrementally averaged rewards in evaluating options and has suggestive implications for the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms.

PMID:
28653668
PMCID:
PMC5490260
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms15958
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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