Confidence controls perceptual evidence accumulation

Nat Commun. 2020 Apr 9;11(1):1753. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15561-w.


Perceptual decisions are accompanied by feelings of confidence that reflect the likelihood that the decision was correct. Here we aim to clarify the relationship between perception and confidence by studying the same perceptual task across three different confidence contexts. Human observers were asked to categorize the source of sequentially presented visual stimuli. Each additional stimulus provided evidence for making more accurate perceptual decisions, and better confidence judgements. We show that observers' ability to set appropriate evidence accumulation bounds for perceptual decisions is strongly predictive of their ability to make accurate confidence judgements. When observers were not permitted to control their exposure to evidence, they imposed covert bounds on their perceptual decisions but not on their confidence decisions. This partial dissociation between decision processes is reflected in behaviour and pupil dilation. Together, these findings suggest a confidence-regulated accumulation-to-bound process that controls perceptual decision-making even in the absence of explicit speed-accuracy trade-offs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*