For decisions made under time pressure, effective decision making based on uncertain or ambiguous evidence requires efficient accumulation of evidence over time, as well as appropriately balancing speed and accuracy, known as the speed/accuracy trade-off. For simple unimodal stimuli, previous studies have shown that human subjects set their speed/accuracy trade-off to maximize reward rate. We extend this analysis to situations in which information is provided by multiple sensory modalities. Analyzing previously collected data (Drugowitsch et al., 2014), we show that human subjects adjust their speed/accuracy trade-off to produce near-optimal reward rates. This trade-off can change rapidly across trials according to the sensory modalities involved, suggesting that it is represented by neural population codes rather than implemented by slow neuronal mechanisms such as gradual changes in synaptic weights. Furthermore, we show that deviations from the optimal speed/accuracy trade-off can be explained by assuming an incomplete gradient-based learning of these trade-offs.
Keywords: computational biology; decision-making; human; multisensory integration; optimality; speed-accuracy trade-off; systems biology.