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Optimal multisensory decision-making in a reaction-time task

  1. Jan Drugowitsch  Is a corresponding author
  2. Gregory C DeAngelis
  3. Eliana M Klier
  4. Dora E Angelaki
  5. Alexandre Pouget
  1. University of Rochester, United States
  2. Baylor College of Medicine, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e03005 doi: 10.7554/eLife.03005

Abstract

Humans and animals can integrate sensory evidence from various sources to make decisions in a statistically near-optimal manner, provided that the stimulus presentation time is fixed across trials. Little is known about whether optimality is preserved when subjects can choose when to make a decision (reaction-time task), nor when sensory inputs have time-varying reliability. Using a reaction-time version of a visual/vestibular heading discrimination task, we show that behavior is clearly sub-optimal when quantified with traditional optimality metrics that ignore reaction times. We created a computational model that accumulates evidence optimally across both cues and time, and trades off accuracy with decision speed. This model quantitatively explains subjects' choices and reaction times, supporting the hypothesis that subjects do, in fact, accumulate evidence optimally over time and across sensory modalities, even when the reaction time is under the subject's control.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jan Drugowitsch

    University of Rochester, New York, United States
    For correspondence
    jdrugo@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  2. Gregory C DeAngelis

    University of Rochester, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  3. Eliana M Klier

    Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
  4. Dora E Angelaki

    Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, United States
    Competing interests
    Dora E Angelaki, Reviewing editor, eLife.
  5. Alexandre Pouget

    University of Rochester, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.

Ethics

Human subjects: Informed consent was obtained from all participants and all procedures were reviewed and approved by the Washington University Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), Institutional Review Board (IRB; IRB ID# 201109183). Consent to publish was not obtained in writing, as it was not required by the IRB, but all subjects were recruited for this purpose and approved verbally. Of the initial seven subjects, three participated in a follow-up experiment roughly two years after the initial data collection. Procedures for the follow-up experiment were approved by the Institutional Review Board for Human Subject Research for Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliated Hospitals (BCM IRB, ID# H-29411) and informed consent and consent to publish was given again by all three subjects.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Eve Marder, Brandeis University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: April 4, 2014
  2. Accepted: June 12, 2014
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 14, 2014 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 22, 2014 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2014, Drugowitsch et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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