Confidence as Bayesian Probability: From Neural Origins to Behavior

Neuron. 2015 Oct 7;88(1):78-92. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.039.


Research on confidence spreads across several sub-fields of psychology and neuroscience. Here, we explore how a definition of confidence as Bayesian probability can unify these viewpoints. This computational view entails that there are distinct forms in which confidence is represented and used in the brain, including distributional confidence, pertaining to neural representations of probability distributions, and summary confidence, pertaining to scalar summaries of those distributions. Summary confidence is, normatively, derived or "read out" from distributional confidence. Neural implementations of readout will trade off optimality versus flexibility of routing across brain systems, allowing confidence to serve diverse cognitive functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Probability