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Optimality and Some of Its Discontents: Successes and Shortcomings of Existing Models for Binary Decisions

Author(s): Holmes, Philip J.; Cohen, Jonathan D.

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Abstract: We review how leaky competing accumulators (LCAs) can be used to model decision making in two-alternative, forced-choice tasks, and show how they reduce to drift diffusion (DD) processes in special cases. As continuum limits of the sequential probability ratio test, DD processes are optimal in producing decisions of specified accuracy in the shortest possible time. Furthermore, the DD model can be used to derive a speed-accuracy tradeoff that optimizes reward rate for a restricted class of two alternative forced choice decision tasks. We review findings that compare human performance with this benchmark, and reveal both approximations to and deviations from optimality. We then discuss three potential sources of deviations from optimality at the psychological level – avoidance of errors, poor time estimation, and minimization of the cost of control – and review recent theoretical and empirical findings that address these possibilities. We also discuss the role of cognitive control in changing environments and in modulating exploitation and exploration. Finally, we consider physiological factors in which nonlinear dynamics may also contribute to deviations from optimality.
Publication Date: Apr-2014
Electronic Publication Date: 20-Mar-2014
Citation: Holmes, Philip J., Cohen, Jonathan D. (2014). Optimality and Some of Its Discontents: Successes and Shortcomings of Existing Models for Binary Decisions. Topics in Cognitive Science, 6 (2), 258 - 278. doi:10.1111/tops.12084
DOI: doi:10.1111/tops.12084
ISSN: 1756-8757
Pages: 258 - 278
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Topics in Cognitive Science
Version: Author's manuscript

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