The simplest complete model of choice response time: linear ballistic accumulation

Cogn Psychol. 2008 Nov;57(3):153-78. doi: 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2007.12.002. Epub 2008 Feb 20.


We propose a linear ballistic accumulator (LBA) model of decision making and reaction time. The LBA is simpler than other models of choice response time, with independent accumulators that race towards a common response threshold. Activity in the accumulators increases in a linear and deterministic manner. The simplicity of the model allows complete analytic solutions for choices between any number of alternatives. These solutions (and freely-available computer code) make the model easy to apply to both binary and multiple choice situations. Using data from five previously published experiments, we demonstrate that the LBA model successfully accommodates empirical phenomena from binary and multiple choice tasks that have proven difficult for other theoretical accounts. Our results are encouraging in a field beset by the tradeoff between complexity and completeness.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Decision Making*
  • Empirical Research
  • Humans
  • Linear Models*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Reaction Time*