Scientific article
Open access

Optimal policy for value-based decision-making

Published inNature communications, vol. 7, 12400
Publication date2016

For decades now, normative theories of perceptual decisions, and their implementation as drift diffusion models, have driven and significantly improved our understanding of human and animal behaviour and the underlying neural processes. While similar processes seem to govern value-based decisions, we still lack the theoretical understanding of why this ought to be the case. Here, we show that, similar to perceptual decisions, drift diffusion models implement the optimal strategy for value-based decisions. Such optimal decisions require the models' decision boundaries to collapse over time, and to depend on the a priori knowledge about reward contingencies. Diffusion models only implement the optimal strategy under specific task assumptions, and cease to be optimal once we start relaxing these assumptions, by, for example, using non-linear utility functions. Our findings thus provide the much-needed theory for value-based decisions, explain the apparent similarity to perceptual decisions, and predict conditions under which this similarity should break down.

Citation (ISO format)
TAJIMA, Satohiro, DRUGOWITSCH, Jan, POUGET, Alexandre. Optimal policy for value-based decision-making. In: Nature communications, 2016, vol. 7, p. 12400. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12400
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2041-1723

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