Characterization of decision commitment rule alterations during an auditory change detection task

Bridgette Johnson, Rebeka Verma, Manying Sun, Timothy Hanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A critical component of decision making is determining when to commit to a choice. This involves stopping rules that specify the requirements for decision commitment. Flexibility of decision stopping rules provides an important means of control over decision-making processes. In many situations, these stopping rules establish a balance between premature decisions and late decisions. In this study we use a novel change detection paradigm to examine how subjects control this balance when invoking different decision stopping rules. The task design allows us to estimate the temporal weighting of sensory information for the decisions, and we find that different stopping rules did not result in systematic differences in that weighting. We also find bidirectional post-error alterations of decision strategy that depend on the type of error and effectively reduce the probability of making consecutive mistakes of the same type. This is a generalization to change detection tasks of the widespread observation of unidirectional post-error slowing in forced-choice tasks. On the basis of these results, we suggest change detection tasks as a promising paradigm to study the neural mechanisms that support flexible control of decision rules. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Flexible decision stopping rules confer control over decision processes. Using an auditory change detection task, we found that alterations of decision stopping rules did not result in systematic changes in the temporal weighting of sensory information. We also found that post-error alterations of decision stopping rules depended on the type of mistake subjects make. These results provide guidance for understanding the neural mechanisms that control decision stopping rules, one of the critical components of decision making and behavioral flexibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2526-2536
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Adaptive behavior
  • Change detection
  • Decision commitment
  • Decision making
  • Executive control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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