The influence of urgency on decision time

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Aug;3(8):827-30. doi: 10.1038/77739.


A fruitful quantitative approach to understanding how the brain makes decisions has been to look at the time needed to make a decision, and how it is affected by factors such as the supply of information, or an individual's expectations. This approach has led to a model of decision-making, consistent with recent neurophysiological data, that explains the observed variability of reaction times and correctly predicts the effects of altered expectations. Can it also predict what happens when the urgency of making the response changes? We asked subjects to make eye movements to low-visibility targets either as fast or as accurately as possible, and found that the model does indeed predict the timing of their responses: the degree of urgency seems to influence the criterion level at which a decision signal triggers a response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Color Perception
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology*
  • Time Factors