Some task demands induce collapsing bounds: Evidence from a behavioral analysis

Psychon Bull Rev. 2018 Aug;25(4):1225-1248. doi: 10.3758/s13423-018-1479-9.


Traditional models of choice-response time assume that sensory evidence accumulates for choice alternatives until a threshold amount of evidence has been obtained. Although some researchers have characterized the threshold as varying randomly from trial to trial, these investigations have all assumed that the threshold remains fixed across time within a trial. Despite decades of successful applications of these models to a variety of experimental manipulations, the time-invariance assumption has recently been called into question, and a time-variant alternative implementing collapsing decision thresholds has been proposed instead. Here, we investigated the fidelity of the collapsing threshold assumption by assessing relative model fit to data from a highly constrained experimental design that coupled a within-subject mixture of two classic response time paradigms-interrogation and free response-within a random dot motion (RDM) task. Overall, we identified strong evidence in favor of collapsing decision thresholds, suggesting that subjects may adopt a dynamic decision policy due to task characteristics, specifically to account for the mixture of response time paradigms and motion strengths across trials in the mixed response signal task. We conclude that time-variant mechanisms may serve as a viable explanation for the strategy used by human subjects in our task.

Keywords: Collapsing boundaries; Fixed boundaries; Interrogation; Random dot motion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Young Adult