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Reinforcement biases subsequent perceptual decisions when confidence is low: a widespread behavioral phenomenon

Lak, A; Hueske, E; Hirokawa, J; Masset, P; Ott, T; Urai, AE; Donner, TH; ... Kepecs, A; + view all (2020) Reinforcement biases subsequent perceptual decisions when confidence is low: a widespread behavioral phenomenon. Elife , 9 , Article e49834. 10.7554/eLife.49834. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Learning from successes and failures often improves the quality of subsequent decisions. Past outcomes, however, should not influence purely perceptual decisions after task acquisition is complete since these are designed so that only sensory evidence determines the correct choice. Yet, numerous studies report that outcomes can bias perceptual decisions, causing spurious changes in choice behavior without improving accuracy. Here we show that the effects of reward on perceptual decisions are principled: past rewards bias future choices specifically when previous choice was difficult and hence decision confidence was low. We identified this phenomenon in six datasets from four laboratories, across mice, rats, and humans, and sensory modalities from olfaction and audition to vision. We show that this choice-updating strategy can be explained by reinforcement learning models incorporating statistical decision confidence into their teaching signals. Thus, despite being suboptimal from the experimenter’s perspective, confidence-guided reinforcement learning optimizes behavior in uncertain, real-world situations.

Type: Article
Title: Reinforcement biases subsequent perceptual decisions when confidence is low: a widespread behavioral phenomenon
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.49834
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.49834
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: human, mouse, neuroscience, rat
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10095605
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