1. Neuroscience
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A common mechanism underlies changes of mind about decisions and confidence

  1. Ronald van den Berg
  2. Kavi Anandalingam
  3. Ariel Zylberberg
  4. Roozbeh Kiani
  5. Michael N Shadlen
  6. Daniel M Wolpert  Is a corresponding author
  1. Cambridge University, United Kingdom
  2. Columbia University, United States
  3. New York University, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 72
  • Views 4,420
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e12192 doi: 10.7554/eLife.12192

Abstract

Decisions are accompanied by a degree of confidence that a selected option is correct. A sequential sampling framework explains the speed and accuracy of decisions and extends naturally to the confidence that the decision rendered is likely to be correct. However, discrepancies between confidence and accuracy suggest that confidence might be supported by mechanisms dissociated from the decision process. Here we show that this discrepancy can arise naturally because of simple processing delays. When participants were asked to report choice and confidence simultaneously, their confidence, reaction time and a perceptual decision about motion were explained by bounded evidence accumulation. However, we also observed revisions of the initial choice and/or confidence. These changes of mind were explained by a continuation of the mechanism that led to the initial choice. Our findings extend the sequential sampling framework to vacillation about confidence and invites caution in interpreting dissociations between confidence and accuracy.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Ronald van den Berg

    Computational and Biological Learning Laboratory, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Kavi Anandalingam

    Computational and Biological Learning Laboratory, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Ariel Zylberberg

    Kavli Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Roozbeh Kiani

    Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Michael N Shadlen

    Kavli Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Daniel M Wolpert

    Computational and Biological Learning Lab, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    wolpert@eng.cam.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Ethics

Human subjects: The Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee approved the experimental protocol, and subjects gave written informed consent.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Timothy EJ Behrens, University College London, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: October 9, 2015
  2. Accepted: January 31, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 1, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 7, 2016 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2016, van den Berg 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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