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Urgency, leakage, and the relative nature of information processing in decision-making


Trueblood, JS and Heathcote, A and Evans, NJ and Holmes, WR, Urgency, leakage, and the relative nature of information processing in decision-making, Psychological Review, 128, (1) pp. 160-186. ISSN 0033-295X (2021) [Refereed Article]

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2020 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:

DOI: doi:10.1037/rev0000255


Over the last decade, there has been a robust debate in decision neuroscience and psychology about what mechanism governs the time course of decision making. Historically, the most prominent hypothesis is that neural architectures accumulate information over time until some threshold is met, the so-called Evidence Accumulation hypothesis. However, most applications of this theory rely on simplifying assumptions, belying a number of potential complexities. Is changing stimulus information perceived and processed in an independent manner or is there a relative component? Does urgency play a role? What about evidence leakage? Although the latter questions have been the subject of recent investigations, most studies to date have been piecemeal in nature, addressing one aspect of the decision process or another. Here we develop a modeling framework, an extension of the Urgency Gating Model, in conjunction with a changing information experimental paradigm to simultaneously probe these aspects of the decision process. Using state-of-the-art Bayesian methods to perform parameter-based inference, we find that 1) information processing is relative with early information influencing the perception of late information, 2) time varying urgency and evidence accumulation are of roughly equal importance in the decision process, and 3) leakage is present with a time scale of ~200-250ms. To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study to utilize a changing information paradigm to jointly and quantitatively estimate the temporal dynamics of human decision-making.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Decision making
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in psychology
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:146568
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-09-13
Last Modified:2021-10-25
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