Scientific article
Open access

The cost of accumulating evidence in perceptual decision making

Published inThe Journal of neuroscience, vol. 32, no. 11, p. 3612-3628
Publication date2012

Decision making often involves the accumulation of information over time, but acquiring information typically comes at a cost. Little is known about the cost incurred by animals and humans for acquiring additional information from sensory variables due, for instance, to attentional efforts. Through a novel integration of diffusion models and dynamic programming, we were able to estimate the cost of making additional observations per unit of time from two monkeys and six humans in a reaction time (RT) random-dot motion discrimination task. Surprisingly, we find that the cost is neither zero nor constant over time, but for the animals and humans features a brief period in which it is constant but increases thereafter. In addition, we show that our theory accurately matches the observed reaction time distributions for each stimulus condition, the time-dependent choice accuracy both conditional on stimulus strength and independent of it, and choice accuracy and mean reaction times as a function of stimulus strength. The theory also correctly predicts that urgency signals in the brain should be independent of the difficulty, or stimulus strength, at each trial.

  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior/physiology
  • Costs and Cost Analysis/trends
  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Female
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Perception/physiology
  • Photic Stimulation/methods
  • Psychomotor Performance/physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Reaction Time/physiology
Citation (ISO format)
DRUGOWITSCH, Jan et al. The cost of accumulating evidence in perceptual decision making. In: The Journal of neuroscience, 2012, vol. 32, n° 11, p. 3612–3628. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4010-11.2012
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0270-6474

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