Of monkeys and men: Impatience in perceptual decision-making

Psychon Bull Rev. 2016 Jun;23(3):738-49. doi: 10.3758/s13423-015-0958-5.


For decades sequential sampling models have successfully accounted for human and monkey decision-making, relying on the standard assumption that decision makers maintain a pre-set decision standard throughout the decision process. Based on the theoretical argument of reward rate maximization, some authors have recently suggested that decision makers become increasingly impatient as time passes and therefore lower their decision standard. Indeed, a number of studies show that computational models with an impatience component provide a good fit to human and monkey decision behavior. However, many of these studies lack quantitative model comparisons and systematic manipulations of rewards. Moreover, the often-cited evidence from single-cell recordings is not unequivocal and complimentary data from human subjects is largely missing. We conclude that, despite some enthusiastic calls for the abandonment of the standard model, the idea of an impatience component has yet to be fully established; we suggest a number of recently developed tools that will help bring the debate to a conclusive settlement.

Keywords: Collapsing bounds; Decision-making; Drift diffusion model; Reward rate maximization; Single-cell recordings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio