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Magnitude-sensitive reaction times reveal non-linear time costs in multi-alternative decision-making

Marshall, James A. R., Reina, Andreagiovanni, Hay, Célia, Dussutour, Audrey and Pirrone, Angelo (2022) Magnitude-sensitive reaction times reveal non-linear time costs in multi-alternative decision-making. PLoS Computational Biology, 18 (10). ISSN 1553-734X

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Identification Number: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010523


Optimality analysis of value-based decisions in binary and multi-alternative choice settings predicts that reaction times should be sensitive only to differences in stimulus magnitudes, but not to overall absolute stimulus magnitude. Yet experimental work in the binary case has shown magnitude sensitive reaction times, and theory shows that this can be explained by switching from linear to multiplicative time costs, but also by nonlinear subjective utility. Thus disentangling explanations for observed magnitude sensitive reaction times is difficult. Here for the first time we extend the theoretical analysis of geometric time-discounting to ternary choices, and present novel experimental evidence for magnitude-sensitivity in such decisions, in both humans and slime moulds. We consider the optimal policies for all possible combinations of linear and geometric time costs, and linear and nonlinear utility; interestingly, geometric discounting emerges as the predominant explanation for magnitude sensitivity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
H Social Sciences
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2022 13:39
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2024 02:09

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